Number at primary school age to rise by up to 29%


The number of children of primary school-going age is projected to increase dramatically over the next decade, according to the Central Statistics Office.

Projected increases in population growth would see the number of children attending primary school increase by 17.6 per cent to 29 per cent.

There were 434,000 children attending primary school in 2001. The projected increases would see this number rising beyond the half-million mark.

The different projections are based on different migration rates. Even in the absence of migration, the increase would be 8 per cent to 15.6 per cent.

The increase in children of primary school-going age contrasts with projected numbers attending secondary schools, which are expected to decline from the 2001 level of 375,000 over the next decade.

The CSO expects a recovery in 2016, when the numbers will be about 360,000.

The number of third-level students is expected to increase. In 2002 an estimated 26 per cent of males and 31 per cent of females were in third-level education. These figures are forecast to increase to 32 per cent and and 36 per cent respectively by 2016.

These figures are in line with a greater emphasis on participation in third-level education and the knock-on effect of higher participation by people in their late teens.

The birth rate is expected to continue to increase, reaching the high levels recorded in the 1971-80 period. The number of births during this time averaged 70,000. However, this fell to 50,000 between 1991 and 1996. It increased to 63,000 last year. Projections for 2011 to 2016 would see the annual number of births rise to between 65,000 and 71,000, depending on factors such as migration and fertility rates.