The National Competitiveness Council recently issued key points to prepare the country’s education system to contribute to future economic growth.
Some recommendations are a direct fit for IDK’s messages.
1) Develop a formal pre-primary education system as a key priority
- integrating disadvantaged children into education as early as possible
- providing pre-primary education & centre-based daycare at one venue
- re-orienting the childcare sector as a cost-effective way to expand early-years education
- subsidising accredited early-years education providers by replacing the early childcare payment
IDK sees early-years education as the best way to prepare children with hearing issues to enter the mainstream education system, with their peer groups. These recommendations are a distinct step in the right direction.
2) Improving education delivery in Irish schools
- investing in teacher skills & technologies to improve student achievement
- structuring teachers’ professional development via the Teaching Council
- ensuring continuous, in-service professional development for teachers
- giving teachers access to peer reviews & collaboration with colleagues
Quality teaching in early life is paramount for a knowledge base in future years. For this to happen, teachers must understand their pupils’ needs and equip themselves with the skills to develop the potential of these pupils.
To ensure a technology-literate population, a higher percentage of schools need a website or internet access, and teachers familiar with internet tools. Current statistics (Feb 2009) show Co Meath to have the highest percentage of secondary schools online in Ireland (77%), with Co Kerry lowest at 4%.
In teaching, whiteboards have a dual purpose of (1) supporting information relay and (2) promoting familiarity with internet and software tools. The internet & online forums also give teachers low-cost peer networking or tele-working options and access to distance courses in professional development.
As the NCC noted, some of its key recommendations are revenue-neutral, but investment in technology is essential for the country’s future citizens.