The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has described the findings of the PISA 2018 study – released this morning – as an endorsement of the work of Irish teachers and students at a time when the country lags far behind internationally in terms of investment in education.
Irish students’ mean scores across the three areas which were examined – Mathematics, Science and Reading – were all rated as statistically significantly above the OECD average.
TUI also warned that it will become difficult for Ireland to maintain its international standing if the teacher recruitment and retention crisis affecting second level schools is not tackled. TUI members will take a day’s strike action in February as part of the campaign to end pay discrimination, which the Union says is largely responsible for the teacher supply crisis.
Speaking this morning, TUI President Seamus Lahart said:
‘These scores are a tribute to teachers and students at a time when schools continue to suffer from the effects of the austerity agenda.
However, the ratings must be looked at within the context of September’s OECD Education At A Glance, which showed that of 35 countries, Ireland spends the lowest proportion of national wealth on second level education.
Investment in education makes compelling educational, social and economic sense. Today’s findings endorse the achievements of Irish students and their teachers, but regrettably the Government has not matched this commitment through increased, progressive investment in education.
It is also important to note that second level schools are currently experiencing a teacher recruitment and retention crisis across a growing range of subjects. This is largely due to a system of discriminatory two-tier pay.
Unless this unacceptable situation is remedied, it will become impossible for Ireland to maintain its high ratings in international rankings like PISA. Last month, TUI announced that its 19,000 members will take a day’s strike action in February as part of the campaign to end this injustice. ‘