A college student has slammed the “constant pressure” of the Leaving Certificate and described it as “unfair and outdated”.
Earlier today, the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals Director told Newstalk Breakfast the examination system is “cruel” and urged the Government to consider assessing students in a different way.
Student Rebecca did not sit her Leaving Cert examinations because of COVID but her experience of studying for them has left her with strong views on the issue of education reform.
“I’m not sure cruel is the word that I’d use to describe it [the Leaving Cert] but I definitely think unfair and outdated would be an appropriate way of describing it,” she told Lunchtime Live.
“I went to an extremely academic school where it was a pressure pot for high results and the end goal was to get to third-level education.
“There was no talk about apprenticeships or entering the Army or the Guards.”
Rebecca said there was “constant pressure on us” in the run up to the exams and that it made many of her classmates deeply unhappy.
“Graham [a previous guest] mentions that he reckons continuous assessment would just prolong the stress,” she said.
“From my experience, the stress was never [not] there.
“From the second you enter fifth year, I can honestly say there was someone crying or going home early every day.
“The pressure was just absolutely immense… Four years down the line, the majority of my friends would say that they have never experienced something so stressful as studying and sitting the Leaving Cert."
According to the OECD, 54% of Irish people have a third-level education but Rebecca said she wishes she had considered alternatives before she filled out her CAO.
“I’m at UCC now,” she said.
“Looking back, I think if someone from the Guards, the Defence Forces, other apprenticeships had come in [to my school to talk to us], that definitely would have sparked my interest.
“I don’t think, looking back, maybe university wasn’t the best choice for me but it was all I knew.”
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Main image: Students sit their Leaving Certificate exams. Picture by: Alamy.com