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Opinion: The disparity in third level participation should make us angry

It is unacceptable that Dublin school leavers from affluent areas are six times more likely to continue to third level education than their counterparts.

Keet Wilson

IT REALLY DOES make me angry when I see the disparity in third level entry from affluent and working class areas. A Higher Education Authority (HEA) report released today shows breaks down participation in third level across postal codes: D17 comes in at 15℅ and D10 at 16% compared to D4 at 84% and D6 at 99%.

I don’t have the numbers of how many individuals these figures represent or how many Leaving Certificate students there were in each area. What I will say is that Ireland’s youth unemployment, as of July 2014 stood at 23.20%.

The percentages of third level attendees, above, do not account for those who have decided to attend PLCs (Post Leaving Certificate) institutions, it also doesn’t account for those who are heading into the skilled labour force (trades), both of which are excellent ways to continue in education and to formulate careers.

The rest, it’s safe to assume, are heading into the workplace. But what percentage of these have employment that they took up in school and plan to continuing? What percentage have jobs lined up? What percentage are about to enter a workplace where, increasingly, a third level qualification is a minimum requirement for employment?

Here are a few points I’d like to make after seeing the HEA report.

  1. There is something radically wrong with the education system in Ireland when variations like this can occur in a county of approximately 1.3 million people
  2. The system is simply not working for working class areas
  3. Ireland’s education system is not as healthy as the Government like to make out in the international arena
  4. People of lower means are being worst hit by cuts imposed upon the education department budget.

What I would like to see:

  1. A full and comprehensive study to be carried out to determine why there are such stark differences between adjacent areas of Dublin and, furthermore, across the island of Ireland
  2. The education minister, Jan O’Sullivan, needs to take the lead in initiating programmes to help those who are currently in the system, and soon to join it, in achieving better outcomes from their five to six years of secondary schooling (primary education also needs to be tackled)
  3. The people of the areas of Dublin with figures below the national average, standing in and around the 50% mark, need to expect more from their politicians, institutions, teachers and fundamentally the youth of the area. I say this not to point blame at the children experiencing this obviously flawed system, but as the quickest way to amend the issue.

What it all boils down to is this: when your son or daughter hands in the last paper of their Leaving Certificate, they either have every possible option in front of them or their options are severely limited. I, for one, would rather set up a child for the former rather than the latter.

Keet Wilson is set to return to BCFE to complete a degree in Media Production Management that he ran away from in 2010. In the interim he traveled for mostly selfish reasons, occasionally as an artist tour manager. For the most part you’ll find him pulling pints in Vicar St, or coffee crawling his way around Dublin City. Twitter

Read: 99% of young adults in D6 go to college, just 15% in D17

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Keet Wilson

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