Wednesday, 28 October 1959
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Corish: asked the Minister for Education if he will consider allowing students who fail either Intermediate or Leaving Certificate examinations because they fail in Irish an opportunity to sit for a further examination in Irish before the beginning of the following school year.
Minister for Education (Dr. Hillery): I am satisfied that in the case of students who, due to failure in any particular subject, fail the Intermediate  or Leaving Certificate examination, it would not be educationally desirable or in practice be feasible to hold a special examination in that subject for such students before the beginning of the following school-year.
Mr. Corish: Is the Minister prepared to consider this matter, bearing in mind a case of which I had experience this Autumn of a young boy who got five or six honours in his Leaving Certificate—I think, five honours— and failed in Irish—and now has to miss a year to do the examination again? Would the Minister agree that there is a practice in the universities whereby, if a student fails in one subject, he has an opportunity to take that subject three or four months after the original examination?
Mr. Corish: Would the Minister consider devising some scheme, because he will appreciate that a special case can be made for students who have not an aptitude for languages, and who if they fail in Irish, must, under the present system, lose a year? It would not be a question of holding an examination for another 20,000 candidates. Will the Minister consider it?
Dr. Hillery: The staff are engaged right up to September and they are fully extended, so it would be difficult to hold re-examinations. I do not think it would be possible but I am prepared to consider it.
Dr. Browne: asked the Minister for Education if in view of the disturbingly high rate of children who failed in (a) the Leaving Certificate examination and (b) the Intermediate Certificate examination, he will consider reviewing the present policy in regard to the Irish language, and give to it as a subject the same value as attaches to other subjects which are of a clearly much higher practical value to the child in after life.
Dr. Hillery: Apart from the fact that I do not accept the implications in the Deputy's question, I do not consider that an unduly high percentage of candidates failed the Intermediate or Leaving Certificate Examination, 1959, or that the figures in relation to those who failed these examinations through failure to reach the necessary standard in Irish are such as to warrant any change of policy in regard to the place to be given to Irish in these examinations.
Dr. Browne: Does the Minister agree that where a child fails an examination because of failure in Irish, it creates great dissatisfaction amongst the parents, and is an additional expense on them? It creates great dissatisfaction amongst the pupils and the parents, and militates against the revival of the language.
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