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Leaving Cert 2009 – How Lucky Are You

The Leaving Certificate results for 2009 were revealed yesterday in Tipperary and although many students greeted their results with joy, relief and celebration, there will be those who feel utterly dejected. Despite giving the exams their best shot, they haven’t got the points they had hoped for and now must agonizingly wait to see what Central Applications Office ( CAO ) offers they will receive on Monday 17th, 2009.

If you are feeling disheartened, take some time out to put things in proper perspective and consider those in Irish society that, like Dr.Theodor Seuss, are dying to tell you “how lucky you are!”.

That’s right, lucky! Don’t believe me?  Take a look at these facts and figures and you’ll see why!

International Adult Literacy Survey

SchoolMr Batt O’Keeffe TD please also take note.
In 1997, results from the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), developed in conjunction with the OECD, revealed that:
• 25% of the Irish adult population (that’s approximately 500,000 people) were found to have a Level 1 literacy ability (NALA: National Adult Literacy Agency). The literacy abilities of adults at Level 1 are so low, that they may, for example, find it difficult to follow information on a packet and be unable to figure out the correct amount of medication to give to their child. Nearly one fifth of the adults found to have a Level 1 literacy ability were aged between 16-25.
• A further 30% of Irish adults had a Level 2 literacy ability, which means that they could only deal with material that is very simple, clearly laid out and which does not require complex tasks (NALA).

Written Out, Written Off:

The report entitled “Written Out, Written Off ” (Barnardos, 2009) revealed that despite the economic ‘good times’, children from disadvantaged backgrounds “still face stark inequalities of opportunities and outcomes in education (Barnardos, 2009, p. 8). Here are some startling facts presented in the report, which may be deemed even more startling in light of the tidal wave of recent and prospective cuts in education:
• While 58 per cent of students from higher professional backgrounds achieve four or more honours grades in the Leaving Certificate, students from manual backgrounds are much less likely to achieve any honours. (Barnardos, 2009, p. 4).
• While over 90 per cent of young people with parent(s) in professional occupations complete the Leaving Certificate, just two-thirds of their counterparts from unskilled manual backgrounds do so. (Barnardos, 2009, p. 4).
• Over 70 per cent of young people from higher professional backgrounds progress to Higher Education within the first two years of leaving school (Fig 4.3). This compares to less than half of those from intermediate and other non-manual backgrounds and just 30 per cent of those from semi- and unskilled manual backgrounds. (Barnardos, 2009, p. 5).
• Early school leavers have a higher risk of committing or being convicted of a crime. A sample of prisoners in Mountjoy Prison indicated that 80 per cent had left school before the age of 16, 50 per cent had left before the age of 15, while 75 per cent had never sat a State examination. The costs associated with each prison place was €97,700 per year (2007 figures). (Barnardos, 2009, p. 9).

The Moral of the Story:
So why are you so lucky, even if your Leaving Cert. results aren’t what you hoped for?
The answer should be obvious.
There are thousands of men, women and children within Irish society that:

  1. Have never and will never be lucky enough to simply sit the Leaving Cert.
  2. Have and will not have the literacy abilities needed to sit any Leaving Certificate examination at any level.
  3. Receiving Leaving Cert. points, high or low, is a dream that has not and will never become a reality in their lifetime.

So if you are disheartened, or even if you are celebrating, please remember how lucky you are and as Dr. Seuss wisely points out:

“Thank goodness for all of the things you are not!
Thank goodness you’re not something someone forgot,
and left all alone in some punkerish place
like a rusty tin coat hanger hanging in space.

That’s why I say
‘Don’t grumble! Don’t stew!
Some critters are much-much,
oh, ever so much-much,
so muchly much-much more unlucky than you!”

(Dr. Seuss, Did I ever tell you how lucky you are?, 1973).


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