Dáil Éireann - Volume 495 - 22 October, 1998

Written Answers - Teaching Posts.

26. Mr. McDowell asked the Minister for Education and Science the measures, if any, he is introducing to attract more physics and chemistry graduates into teaching, to retain physics and chemistry graduates in teaching; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20721/98]

65. Mr. McDowell asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has satisfied himself that sufficient points are allocated to physics and chemistry in the leaving certificate examination; the proposals, if any, he has in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20720/98]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 65 together.

Earlier this year I announced that I was increasing the number of places available on the higher diploma in education courses for the 1998-99 academic year from 800 to 940. Of these additional places, 100 are specifically for teachers of Irish, religion, Italian, Spanish and key sciences. I am concerned with the decrease in the numbers taking physics and chemistry at leaving certificate level. However, a number of measures already taken or planned should increase the uptake in the numbers opting for these subjects at leaving certificate level and help retain physics and chemistry graduates in teaching. These measures include the IT 2000 initiative, the science programme in the new primary curriculum, the introduction of new syllabi in physics and chemistry from September 2000 and the general awareness initiatives under way to advise young people of the employment potential in science and technology related areas.

The allocation of points for leaving certificate subjects for entry to third level institutions is a matter for the institutions involved. The CAO is a limited company set up by the third level institutions as an administrative mechanism for dealing with applications and admissions and the CAO operates a common points system. I set up the Commission on the Points System in October 1997. An Action Programme for the Millennium sets out as a key priority the appointment of a such a group to examine the points system. I have set out in the terms of reference for the commission that it should review the present system of entry to third level institutions and make any recommendation that it considers appropriate. The commission has recently published its consultative [1319] document and aims to produce its final report in late spring/early summer 1999.