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History could still be reinstated as core subject for Junior Cert, says Minister

Reinstating History as a core subject is still possible despite a leaked report recommending that should not happen, Education Minister Joe McHugh says.

The leaked report from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) advises against a change to the subject's current optional status at Junior Cert level.

The NCCA was asked to carry out the review by Mr McHugh last November amid strong criticism from President Michael D Higgins and others about the 2015 decision to remove it as a mandatory subject.

A spokesman for Mr McHugh told the Irish Examiner: “The report is a work in progress. It is unfinished, incomplete.

"The Minister looks forward to receiving the final, complete report after the NCCA Board has had an opportunity to discuss its review, assess the final report and decide on what advice, recommendations or options, if any, it should give the minister.”

Mr McHugh has said the NCCA needs to be given the time and space to come up with its own deliberations and observations.

The draft report into the status of history makes no specific recommendation but does conclude that "changes to any single component or subject, such as History, has implications for the framework as a whole".

The NCCA is to discuss its draft report with its members on May 1.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr McHugh said he believes that some value should be placed on History as we are at "an important juncture in terms of our own history" and the younger generation must be informed about where they have come from, in order to understand what kind of future can be created.

He said History remains a popular subject, taken by 90% of students, but is concerned that this could change over time.

Fianna Fáil's education spokesman, Thomas Byrne, said he and his party are fully committed to restoring History as a compulsory subject, saying he was concerned by the draft findings: “The commitment was in our last General Election manifesto, it has to happen.

I am not surprised by the NCAA's findings but this is another Fine Gael Árd Fheis promise that has already bitten the dust.

"But the power is with the minister, he can do it, he said he would do it as he has given a personal commitment, but we would be using our powers to make it happen."

Historians and others criticised the removal of history as a mandatory subject.

Until recently, History was a core subject in most secondary schools, but the new framework for the Junior Cycle removed its core status.

President Michael D Higgins, last April expressed his "deep and profound concern" about changes to the status of history saying "knowledge and understanding of history is intrinsic to our shared citizenship, to be without such knowledge is to be permanently burdened with a lack of perspective, empathy and wisdom".