Leaving Cert students need clarity

Opinion: While the Government says it will examine alternative options for assessing Leaving Cert students once consultations with partners are complete, students are calling for clarity now. Leaving Cert student Zana Zee Keough writes about the uncertainty surrounding this year’s examinations.

The Government announced that the Level 5 lockdown will be in place until March 5th, but no announcement was made regarding plans for this year’s Leaving Cert. The Cabinet has kicked making the decision so far down the field that they’re heading towards an own goal and they may not even be on the pitch anymore.

It emerged this week that the Government is to examine alternative options for assessingstudents when consultations with education partners are completed.

Instead of putting a plan in place that would give some clarity and allow students to prepare for the most important exam of their life, we are treated instead to meandering quotes from the Taoiseach Micheál Martin stating that Minister for Education Norma Foley and the education partners are being given "space" to work issues out.

Space? At this point the Education Minister has enough space to form a galaxy.


Meanwhile, the Government’s advisory group on the 2021 State Exams said, it was beginning to explore “further possible options for the examinations”. That was last Friday.

Beginning to explore? With the orals due to take place in March it’s a tad late to only start looking at other options.

Leaving Cert students need clarity. Plans. Help.

The Government’s inaction on the Leaving Cert shows how little some people who have completed their own education value those who have not. Last year, the Government did not address how the Leaving Cert was going to be handled until very late in the school year.

That led to over 50 High Court cases against the Department of Education and almost 19,000 Leaving Cert students being downgraded with many of those missing out on their dream course as a result.

What a mess, but here we are again!

Is education valued in Ireland? Level 5 lockdown lists education as non-essential yet chippers and parks can remain open. Go figure.

Instead of “Let them eat cake” we have “Let them eat chips!”.

Leaving Cert students cannot wait until March 5th to return to class. If students are to have any hope of successfully completing the Leaving Cert we will need to be back by early February. Otherwise, the Government should allow students to decide how they want to proceed.

The best course of action would be for students to choose whether they want to have predictive grades or take the Leaving Cert. This would permit Leaving Cert students to judge what would suit best them rather than the Government’s one size fits all solution.

The students are the ones most affected by the Government’s decisions so why do we not have any say?

This suggestion will stop all lawsuits against the Government, prevent students from being penalised because of their economic background, and provide students with a chance to prepare for their future.

On top of that, having a plan would result in the dissipation of untold levels of uncertainty and stress.

Malcom X said, "Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today". The students have the passport, now we are just waiting for the Government to map out our direction.

* Zana Zee is a Leaving Cert student