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The time is coming when foreign languages are also taught in schools in Ireland!

Dublin: Ireland’s primary school education system is undergoing a major overhaul. Significant changes in the new curriculum include reducing time for religious studies and making foreign languages, which are currently used by more people in the country, mandatory.

The government is making the first and biggest reform in education in a quarter of a century. However, it is unclear when the revised curriculum will go into effect. According to the new plan, foreign language learning will be compulsory in primary and special schools. Simultaneously, time for religious study will be reduced.

Ireland’s primary school education system is changing rapidly.
The amount of time spent on religious studies will be reduced.
For the first time, foreign language study is included in the curriculum.

The biggest difference is that for the first time, foreign language learning will be part of the curriculum. Children will be required to study a language other than English or Irish for one hour per week beginning in the third grade. It has been suggested that priority should be given to the languages that more children want to learn in the same class. Languages from various cultures that have arrived in the country, as well as facilities for teaching on a population basis, should be provided in addition to the existing languages. Languages such as Hindi and Malayalam are among the non-European foreign languages spoken by the most people in the country. The government is giving indications that these may be included in the subjects of study.

Education Minister Norma Foley unveiled the primary curriculum developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment over a six-year period (NCCA). Language, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), sustainable studies, arts education, and social and environmental education are the five broad areas covered by the curriculum.

Foreign language studies from 2025 onwards.

Foley said that the teaching of foreign languages is expected to start in 2025. According to the minister, the project has been tested in a few schools. She said that the Education Department will provide skill and professional training (CPD) for teaching foreign languages.

Religious study time will be reduced.
At the same time, religious education will be reduced from two and a half hours to two hours a week. Religious education will also be included in the new ‘Religious, Moral, Multi-Faith, and Values Education’ subject. This topic will provide a broader perspective on faith.

According to the new plan, junior infants and senior infants should study mathematics for three hours a week and four hours from the first grade onward. Also, junior and senior infants will be taught science, technology, and engineering for three hours a month. They should be taught for four hours in the first and second grades and five hours from the third grade onward.

However, schools are allowed ‘flexible time’. According to the minister, schools will be able to devote more time to religious education. Junior infants will be allowed one hour and forty minutes per week until the second grade, and two hours per week from the third to the sixth grade.

Children from junior to second grade should study art education for nine hours per month; from third grade, eight hours per month.

A broad discussion is needed.
According to John Boyle, general secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, the curriculum should allow for broader debate. He advocated for specific time allotted to teachers and schools to understand and implement the curriculum. It should also seek to reduce the educational burden placed on primary school children.

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