A student writes
TBH:ON TUESDAY I will sit three Leaving Cert exams, one after the other. I am one of 279 students expected to sit the Russian paper this year and, since the subject has been timetabled for the same day as Irish, which is compulsory for most students, and biology, which is one of the most popular elective subjects available, I know I won’t be the only student who will spend eight hours in the exam hall that day.
In fact, I have already identified two students in the same boat and we have all made representations to the Department of Education asking for Russian to be moved to a different day.
They have insisted nothing could be done: the timetable stands.
Imagine how next week will go for me. On Monday I have two exams: maths in the morning and Irish in the afternoon. On Tuesday I have Irish from 9am, followed by biology at 2pm and Russian at about 6pm. I will finally fall out of the exam hall as late as 9pm, only to rise the next morning for a French exam at 9am.
That’s three languages in 24 hours.
What I, my fellow Russian students, our teachers and our parents cannot understand is why this exam could not have been scheduled later in the exam period, when the core subjects are finished. Russian has, in fact, been timetabled to coincide with Irish and students like me are being “facilitated” by allowing us to take the exam at night.
Why timetable Irish and Russian together? I can only assume that the powers-that-be thought that all Russian students have an exemption from Irish, because we are recent arrivals to the country. However, in my case, and in the case of increasing numbers of students with Russian roots, my parents have been in Ireland for many years and I am a student of the Irish and Russian languages.
This is an issue that will come up more often in the future and I think it’s time that the department dealt with it fairly. I realise that there are a lot of different needs to accommodate, but the first Tuesday of the Leaving Cert is one of the busiest days in the exam calendar.
It seems unfair that students of Russian (and Arabic) should be shoehorned into this day, when students of other minority languages have the space to take their exams within the regular exam day. It’s too late for me, but maybe next year students could be spared the marathon?