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Don O'Leary, director of the Cork Life Centre. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Don O'Leary, director of the Cork Life Centre. Picture: Denis Minihane.
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10% of young people did not sit a Leaving Cert this year

Cork Life Centre has called for a new educational system that caters for all, following the news that 10% of young people did not sit a Leaving Certificate this year.

Director of the schooling institution, which offers alternative education to young people outside of mainstream education, Don O’Leary said that this 10% have been left on the scrapheap of society.

Mr O’Leary said that the educational system needs to cater for all kids by offering an alternative system of schooling.

“We have one of the highest classroom sizes in Europe. There are roughly 30 people in a classroom, what do you do if five of them are bouncing off the walls and another five are completely withdrawn?

“You have to just teach the other 20 because you don’t have the resources to deal with the issues that are ongoing.” 

Mr O’Leary said that schools, in their current structure, cannot cater for the eclectic mix of personalities that make up a classroom of children and another programme should exist to support mainstream education and the children that don’t fit in with standard schooling.

“Where is the training for dealing with mental health issues such as depression and social anxiety? We have to treat these individuals differently and at the moment, schools cannot cater for that.” 

Although there are other schooling systems in the country, such as Youthreach and other training programmes, Mr O’Leary said there is not enough capacity to handle the demand from those who would like to learn outside the realms of a crowded State classroom.

“In Cork, there are less than 900 places to cater for kids, not in mainstream education, that is not enough. Last year the Cork Life Centre had to turn away 120 kids.” Mr O’Leary called the issue of 10% of young people not finishing their second level education a “ major crisis.” “Where are the alternatives?

“We need to look at the whole system, I understand no system is perfect, but this is a major problem that needs to be addressed.”