Has been contacted by students and parents
Kildare based Seanad Eireann candidate, Peter Finnegan, independent candidate for change on NUI Panel for Seanad Eireann, has called on state and university examinations to be either cancelled or deferred to later in the year.
Mr Finnegan, who lives in Celbridge, said the uncertainty of the coronavirus (or Covid 19) is putting additional worry on students and pressure on teachers. “Our greatest weakness is fear and worry,” he said.
Mr Finnegan is a member of the State body, Teaching Council of Ireland, which oversees teaching standards, and also an elected member of the governing authority of Maynooth University.
He called on the Minister for Education and Skills to provide certainty to Junior, Leaving Certificate and university students worried about final exams in the current coronavirus crisis.
Mr Finnegan said: “I have been contacted by University students facing final exams and by parents at second level who are anxious about the Leaving Cert exams. Individuals who are at these critical moments of their education journey need clarification and certainty.”
Commending the Government for the strong and resolute focus on mobilising medical expertise and community solidarity to tackle the Coronavirus he said: “Our greatest weakness however remains fear and worry. I call on the Minister for Education now to remove the fear and worry of the student population by taking resolute action in respect of final exams. This will also reduce the pressure faced by teaching staff and parents.”
Mr Finnegan said: “We all know this Covid-19 health crisis will not see life return to normal in the next 12 weeks. So let’s defer now final university and Leaving Certificate examinations until September. The Junior Certificate should be cancelled for this year. This simple, honest and realistic move would resolve the worry and uncertainty which is an unnecessary added pressure on teachers, parents and students in the middle of the greatest crisis we have faced as a nation since the Famine. “
Mr Finnegan, who worked for 15 years in FAS (now Solas and ETBs) on Training and Employment programmes, said the establishment of a realistic timetable would also allow the dedicated and committed teaching staff in second and third level to assess and plan how they might make up lost teaching and curriculum delivery time for students over the next few months.
He said while this will present challenges for the CAO process and university/college intake in October, it is feasible to allocate additional resources to marking and assessing exam papers, and delay the first year intake at third level by a month, lengthen term periods and make up ground over the 2020/21 academic year.
The Teaching Council said that it has no role and no position in relation to the status of State examinations. It said: “The Council wishes to clarify that it has no role and no position in relation to the State examinations and has not made any statement with regard to State examinations. Any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate. “
Another candidate, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, said that while many aspects of life are on hold in the context of the current Covid-19 crisis, the Seanad elections are still underway. “Our constitution requires that these elections take place within ninety days of a general election and the deadline for return of ballot papers is 11am on March 31.
It is still important to use your vote. At a time of serious collective challenge, who you choose to shape our public policy is more important than ever, she said.
Senator Higgins was elected to the NUI panel in 2016, the first woman to win a seat on this panel in 35 years. She has led the Civil Engagement Group in the Seanad and has been an active legislator, winning over 50 changes to law and policy in her term.