Junior Cert CSPE: More challenging than in previous years

Exam paper would have rewarded students who have engaged in current affairs

File photograph showing members of the Irish Coastguard (Howth/Skerries Division) taking part in a rescue exercise on the Liffey. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

File photograph showing members of the Irish Coastguard (Howth/Skerries Division) taking part in a rescue exercise on the Liffey. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

 

This year’s Junior Certificate Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) exam was of a higher standard than in previous years with candidates questioned on matters relating to community organisations, world sanitary conditions and current affairs.

Students were required to answer 7 questions across three sections in the 90-minute paper. The a written examination is worth 40 per cent of the final grade with the remaining 60 per cent based on an assessment task completed during the year.

Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) is taught to all Junior Certificate students and is aimed at helping them to engage in the community, the country and the wider world.

The exam was introduced as a mandatory subject in the Junior Certificate curriculum in 1997 and is taught to give students an understanding of the civic, social and political dimensions of their lives.

Máire O’Higgins, PRO of the Association of CSPE Teachers’ Network said the paper was “of a higher standard than previous years” and would have been “thought provoking” for students.

Ms O’Higgins said there were two questions that were particularly “relevant and important.”

The first was in relation to the World Cup and the child labour used to manufacture the footballs used in the tournament.

“One was in relation to the World Cup coming up and children in Pakistan making the footballs and the fact that a stitcher, somebody making the balls, would make three soccer balls a day earning between 30c and 60c a ball and it is really good that this has been highlighted for young people.”

The second question related to World Toilet Day, a United Nations initiative designed to raise awareness of the need to tackle the global sanitation crisis. For this question, candidates were asked to show an understanding of the issues relating to sanitation and education.

This was “a valuable question in that it links poor sanitation facilities with lost education. It is important to highlight that one in three have no safe and secure private place to go to the toilet,” said Ms O’Higgins.

One criticism levelled at the 2018 paper was the lack of a focus on political issues.

Despite the recent referendum, Ms O’Higgins said the exam “shied away from political issues. There was no question on voting or on elections.”

“The Belfast Agreement question was more historical than current although there was an attempt to pull politics in with the Brexit question at the end.”

“Something around referendum voting (or) the suffragette year ... would have made sense.”

Ms O’Higgins questioned the link to CSPE and a question on the Irish Coast Guard. “It was an unusual choice of question. It could easily have come from an English paper,” she said.