Una Mullally: Students fear failure, but the Department of Education has openly embraced it

With Covid-19, McHugh left it to last minute to cram for final exams and created a mess

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh: His department turns with all the speed and nimbleness of an aircraft carrier reversing in a storm. Photograph:  Leon Farrell/PA

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh: His department turns with all the speed and nimbleness of an aircraft carrier reversing in a storm. Photograph: Leon Farrell/PA

The Leaving Cert being cancelled may be every teenager in Ireland’s dream manifested, but why have we been left with such a mess? Other government departments had to instigate nothing short of radical change at the outset of the pandemic. How did it take two months for the Department of Education and Skills to figure out an exam?

The disruptions we’ve all faced to protect our society against Covid-19 are severe, but teenagers have borne a disproportionate brunt. The decision of the department, and of its Minister, Joe McHugh’s kinda-cancel-and-mark-but-not-really-and-you-can-also-maybe-sit-the-exam-anyway approach is a potentially unworkable fudge. Hopefully this hames of a non-solution will instigate the widescale reform we actually need for universal access to third-level education to become a reality, but more likely we’ll continue to encounter the kind of obfuscation that typifies our education system and the powers that control it.

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