Education in Ireland: structure, system, features

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Education in Ireland: structure, system, features
Education in Ireland: structure, system, features

Ireland, a neighboring state of Great Britain, is currently considered one of the richest countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Over the past few years, it has become the preferred destination for international students who want to study in Western Europe.

Education in Ireland in brief

Today, the number of international students who decide to move to Ireland is growing. Some of the best educational institutions in the country offer unique courses for undergraduate and graduate students. The education system in Ireland is characterized by a three-level structure. These are primary, secondary and 3rd level education received at universities and colleges. Since the 1960s, education has undergone major changes due to continued economic growth. Funding for education in Ireland lies almost entirely with the state and the church. In addition to public schools, there are a number of private schools in the country. Private schools are more efficient. This can be explained by the family and socio-economic background of the student community.

Education is compulsory for children between the ages of six and sixteen or until students complete three years of second-level education. Level 3 education is not compulsory. In Ireland, education is divided into the following levels:

  • Primary school.
  • High school.
  • Higher education in Ireland (Level 3).

Teaching language is English except for Gaeltacht and Gaelscoileanna (Irish language schools, Gaelscoil). In these schools Irish is the main medium of instruction at all levels and English is taught as a second language. At universities, courses are usually taught in English. Some universities offer courses partly in French, German or Spanish. In state educational institutions, the teaching of the Irish language remains compulsory. There are exceptions for students who have spent a long time abroad or have learning difficulties.

Trinity College, University of Dublin

History of the Irish education system

According to criminal law, Irish Catholics were previously not allowed to attend educational institutions. Instead, they organized informal secret meetings that were held in private homes called "secret schools" ("hedge schools"). Historians generally agree that by the mid-1820s, this was how a kind of education was organized for 400,000 students.

Criminal legislation was abolished in the 1790syears, which made "secret schools" legal, although they still received no government assistance or funding. Formally, schools for Catholics under the guidance of trained teachers began to appear only after 1800. This year can be considered the time when the education system appeared in Ireland. Edmund Ignatius Rice, a Catholic missionary and educator, founded two religious brotherhood institutes. He opened numerous schools that were legal and standardized. The discipline there was very strict.

Under the 1831 Establishment of a National Education Act, the British government appointed a Commissioner for National Education whose task was to improve the quality of education and literacy in English. The number of "secret schools" declined after 1831: Catholic bishops took over education. The new schools under their direction were largely under the control of the Catholic Church and allowed better oversight of the teaching of Catholic doctrine.

Years of study

Primary education there usually starts at the age of four or five. Enrollment is in progress for early childhood education in Ireland at age four or five, depending on the wishes of the parents.

Primary school:

  • Toddlers (4-5 / 5-6 years).
  • Older toddlers (5-6 / 6-7 years).
  • First grade (6-7 / 7-8 years).
  • Second grade (7-8 / 8-9 years).
  • Third grade (8-9 / 9-10 years).
  • Fourth grade (9-10 / 10-11years).
  • Fifth grade (10-11 / 11-12 years old).
  • Sixth grade (11-12 / 12-13 years old).

Education in Ireland involves a junior cycle - a three-year program culminating in an examination in all subjects (approximately 10 or 11) at the beginning of June (immediately after the end of the third year):

  • First year (ages 12-14).
  • Second year (ages 13-15).
  • Third year (ages 14-16).

Senior Cycle is a two-year program to prepare students for the Matura exams. Tests are taken immediately after the end of the sixth year:

  • Fifth year (16-18 or 15-17).
  • Sixth year (17-19 or 16-18).

To prepare students for the state exam in both senior and junior cycles, many schools have an annual February exam (also known as a pre-exam). This event is not a state exam. In this case, independent companies provide examination papers and assessment schemes. Therefore, the event is not mandatory for all schools.

It is difficult to say specifically about the timing of obtaining a third level education. It all depends on the program of the institution in which the student is studying, as well as on the degree for which the future specialist applies. However, it is possible to give an approximate estimate: a bachelor's degree will take 3-4 years, a master's degree - plus another 2 years, a doctoral program will take from 2 to 6 years - it depends on the type and goals of the research work.

Primary education

Toddler education program is available in all schools. The primary school system includes 8 years of education: younger and older children, grades - from the first to the sixth. Most children attend primary school between the ages of four and twelve, although this is not required until the age of six. The smallest proportion of them start studying at the age of three.

Virtually all publicly funded elementary schools are under the control of the church. Irish law allows these schools to consider religion as a major factor in admission. Establishments with excessive seat competition often choose to accept Catholics over non-Catholics, making it difficult for other families.

Ireland's primary education is typically completed at a national, multi-faith, gaelscoil school (where subjects are taught in Irish) or a preparatory school:

  • National schools have existed since the introduction of public elementary education. They are usually overseen by a board of directors under diocesan patronage and often include a local priest in their subject composition. The term "national school" in recent years has become synonymous with elementary school in some sense.
  • Gaelscoil is an innovation that emerged in the middle of the 20th century. Irish is the main language in these schools. They differ from the Irish national schools in that most of them are under the voluntary organization "Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge" rather than diocesan patronage. The presence of such schoolscan be attributed to the peculiarities of education in Ireland.
  • Multinational schools are another innovation. They often open at the request of parents. Thus, students of all religions and backgrounds can freely receive education.
  • Preparatory are independent, fee-paying schools that do not rely on government funding. They usually serve to prepare children for admission to paid independent or voluntary institutions. Most of them are under the patronage of a religious order.
Primary education in Ireland

Secondary education

Teenagers enter high school at the age of twelve. The majority of students complete secondary education, with approximately 90% of graduates taking the final examination, the matriculation certificate, at the age of 16-19 (year 6 of secondary school). In Ireland, secondary education is usually completed in one of four types of schools:

  • Voluntary high schools or simply "high schools" are owned and controlled by religious communities or private organizations. The state finances teachers' salaries and the lion's share of other expenses. These schools serve the majority of secondary school students.
  • Vocational schools. Owned and operated by Education and Training Boards.
  • Comprehensive schools or "community schools" were established in the 1960s, often by combining voluntary secondary and vocational schools. They are fully funded by the state andcontrolled by local councils.
  • Gaelcholaiste or Gaelcholaistí are second level schools for Irish secondary education in English speaking communities.
High school in Ireland

Types of educational programs

The junior cycle builds on the education obtained at the primary level and ends with a certificate. This period usually begins at age 12 or 13. The junior certificate exam is taken after three years of study. We are talking about exams in English, Irish, mathematics and science, as well as in other subjects. This is usually art history, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, Greek, music, business studies, technology, economics, history, geography, civil society and religious studies. The choice of optional and compulsory subjects depends on the school. Most students master about ten subjects.

Transition Year is a one-year non-formal course attended by an increasing number of students, typically aged 15-16. Its availability depends on the particular school. This year is obligatory only in some institutions. Students may attend structured classes, but they do not cover materials related to senior or matriculation exams.

The Senior Cycle builds on the Junior Cycle and culminates with the Senior Certificate Final Examination. Typically, students begin their studies at the age of 15-17, after the end of the junior cycle.or transition year. The matriculation exam is taken after two years of study, usually at the age of 17-19. After passing the matriculation exam, the teenager receives the appropriate certificate. Further studies at the university are possible.

Secondary education in Ireland

3rd level education (Irish higher education)

A wide range of institutions in the Republic of Ireland provide Level 3 education. The university and technology sectors, as well as colleges, are heavily funded by the state. Moreover, there are more than a dozen private independent institutions that provide further education in Ireland:

  • University sector. Irish universities are almost entirely funded by the state, but are generally independent of it. There are seven universities in Ireland.
  • The technology sector contains institutes of technology that have education programs in the following areas: business, science, engineering, linguistics and music. There are 14 institutes of technology throughout the country.
  • Colleges. In addition to publicly funded colleges, a number of fee-paying universities offer additional courses, usually in vocational training and business. Some of these institutions work closely with institutes or professional associations. Others provide specialized training for primary school teachers. They offer a 3-year Bachelor of Education degree and an 18-month Diploma of Education.Primary school teachers usually earn a degree followed by a postgraduate degree.
University of Ireland students

Postgraduate studies

PhD can be either teaching or research. It usually falls into one of several categories:

  • Postgraduate Diploma: often a professional education course combined with teaching.
  • Master's degree: either an educational course or an extensive research paper. The magistracy usually lasts one or two years. It includes term papers and thesis.
  • Ph.D.: Doctoral degree awarded for a dissertation based on scientific research. The training takes at least 3 years. The dissertation should be original research useful for science.

Distance learning

Higher education in Ireland

Distance education in Ireland or online learning is a mode that allows students to study most or all of a course without visiting an educational institution. In this case, students communicate with teachers and other students through e-mail, electronic forums, video conferencing, chat rooms, message boards, instant messages, and other forms of computer interaction.

Programs often include an online learning system and tools for creating virtual classrooms. The cost of education depends on the educational institution. Undoubtedly, here the student is followingcosts associated with accommodation and transportation. The distance option is also a great solution for people who already have a job but still want or need further education.


Qualifications and education in Northern Ireland

In conclusion, it should be noted that primary, secondary and higher education in Ireland are categories set at a high level, which may well be considered one of the best in Northern Europe. In the Republic of Ireland in 2008, there were seven universities ranked among the top 500 universities in the world, according to Times Higher Education magazine.

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