Education top quality-of-life priority


People living in Ireland prioritise education above all else, are most unhappy with the country’s health services, and deem religion and spirituality to be the least important issue facing society, according to a new study.

The VitalSigns survey, published today by the Community Foundation of Ireland, provides a snapshot of the trends and issues affecting modern-day Ireland.

The study, based on a survey of 1,000 people conducted late last year, graded 12 areas which most affected their quality of life and asked respondents to rank their priorities in each area.

Of the 119 priority options presented to respondents, 8 of the top 10 items listed by Irish people related to education and learning.

The quality of the education system, literacy levels, universities and third level education and early childhood education ranked top in that order. Libraries and reading, numeracy levels as well as educational attainment rates also featured as primary concerns.

Air quality and the quality of home life of children and young people were the only two non-educational areas to be listed in the top ten.

Perhaps the most surprising finding was the ranking religion and spirituality which placed last of 119 issues facing citizens.

The study, which graded 12 areas which most affected the quality of the life on a scale of A-F, awarded Ireland an overall mark of C+ for satisfaction with life.

The areas that people are most satisfied with were arts and culture, rating this B+, with many respondents citing the bumper crop of concerts and festivals available each year. Education and learning rating this C+ and safety which also received a C+.

The areas that people are least satisfied with were work, equality and financial wellbeing at C-, housing at C- and health and wellbeing which also received a C- and stood out as the area that people are least satisfied with.

“The better we understand our communities, the better equipped we are to make decisions and take action to improve them. Ireland’s VitalSigns 2013 tells us what makes Ireland vibrant and what we have to celebrate.

The report also highlights a number of gaps and challenges that we are facing. Identifying the areas that need improving and are most important to people provides us with an opportunity to create change and have a positive impact.” said Tina Roche, chief executive of the Community Foundation for Ireland (CFI).

The VitalSigns study was based on a survey of over 1,000 people, conducted in September and October last year.

It was first conceived by the Toronto Community Foundation but has since been adopted in other Canadian cities and provinces, and abroad in the US, Australia and Brazil.

Ireland is the first European country to conducted its own VitalSigns survey. Plans are under way for a similar one in the UK.