Echo Comment: Leaving Cert grades disaster must be fixed

This terrible situation must be corrected and it is up to the government to fix it to everyone’s satisfaction, so says Maurice Gubbins, commenting on the Leaving Cert grades fiasco
Echo Comment: Leaving Cert grades disaster must be fixed

"Students had put in the work and showed remarkable resilience throughout the year since the awful Covid crisis and lockdown struck."

Now give those young people back their college choices!

A wrong algorithm! No wonder students and parents all over the country, especially the 6,000 directly affected, are furious following yesterday’s announcement about the Leaving Cert and the predicted grades.

The students had put in the work and showed remarkable resilience throughout the year since the awful Covid crisis and lockdown struck.

For most of them, their lives have been focused on the exam for the past two years at least.

Then the decision to cancel the exam was taken and we all hoped that the predicted grades arrangement would work out well. We became conscious of disastrous outcomes in Britain and other countries, but were assured it would be alright here.

The teachers did their job responsibly and fairly.

People worked extremely hard in the Department of Education and the State Exams Commission to put this system together.

However, it has proved inadequate. Thousands of dreams were shattered. It now turns out that for 6,000 people, that should not have happened.

And now this terrible situation must be corrected and it is up to the government to fix it to everyone’s satisfaction. Failure to do so will make the position of this administration untenable.

Students who have been incorrectly downgraded must have their marks restored and must be given back the third level opportunities they have been robbed of.

The third level places which have been denied as a result of these two fundamental mistakes must now be made available to them. 

People who have lost out on their preferred higher preferences and have had to settle for second or third choices, must be given back the option of getting the preferences to which the corrected algorithm would entitle them.

Ideally, the universities and other colleges should be opened up to allow all of the students who have been wrongly downgraded to be brought in to the third level course of their choice immediately.

The Minister for Higher Education has ordered that tuition is to be online, so why can the extra people not be accommodated?

If this proves impossible, those who have missed out unfairly should be given deferred places, entitling them to take up their preferences next year.

It goes without saying that those who have already been accepted into the courses of their choice must be able to hold those places.

When the immediate crisis situation has been sorted out, there must be an independent investigation, with complete openness and transparency into what went wrong, how we came to rely on incorrect algorithms.

We have heard a lot this summer about the well-being and mental health of young people.

It is no use now telling them to try again. This can be fixed and it must be fixed. If we have to err on the side of the students who have been downgraded, so be it. Everyone who has been deprived of their place unfairly must be given their choice.

If the government fails to do this satisfactorily, the very existence of this administration must come into question.

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