Dáil Éireann - Volume 415 - 19 February, 1992

Written Answers. - Junior Certificate English Course.

49. Mr. Browne (Carlow/Kilkenny) asked the Minister for Education if he will outline (a) his views on the downgrading of the Irish short story in the new junior certificate English course and (b) whether the theory of encouraging a wider range of writing skills such as dialogue and media captions is being ignored in practice in the sample papers provided by his Department.

Minister for Education (Mr. S. Brennan): The Irish short story is not being down-graded in the new junior certificate English course. This is an open course, with no specifically prescribed texts. Teachers of this course are required to select suitable texts for their own pupils and to ensure that over the three years of the course they will encounter all the literary genres including short stories. With regard to the latter, teachers are perfectly free to choose Irish short stories in preference to others. There is no reason to believe that they are likely to neglect Irish short stories, [2443] given the excellence of Irish writers in this field and given their special relevance and suitability for Irish pupils.

It was not possible to illustrate, on the sample papers in junior certificate English, more than a few of the types of questions that might legitimately be set to test candidates' competence in writing skills. However, the requirement that pupils should be encouraged to practice a wide variety of writing skills is still an essential component of the junior certificate English syllabus.

Any misunderstandings in this area will be cleared up by the issue shortly of a departmental circular arising out of comment on the sample papers generally.