Dáil Éireann - Volume 623 - 04 July, 2006

Written Answers. - Physical Sciences.

Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of recommendations of the Task Force on Physical Sciences which have to be progressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25789/06]

  Ms Hanafin:There were some 39 recommendations in the Report of the Task Force on the Physical Sciences, with costed proposals totalling an additional €244 million, of which €66.3 million would be a recurring annual cost. Of the 39 recommendations, 4 are not for the education sector. Of the remainder, progress has been made on implementing 25 of the recommendations and my Department continues to progress the recommendations as resources permit in collaboration and consultation with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, FORFÁS and industry.

Significant progress has been made in a range of areas e.g.

A new science curriculum has been introduced at primary level supported by a resource grant in December 2004 of €1000 per school plus €10.00 per pupil.

A revised syllabus in Junior Certificate Science was introduced in 2003 and will be examined for the first time in June 2006. Revised syllabi in Leaving Certificate Physics, Chemistry and Biology have also been introduced and examined within the last five years. Work on the revision of the two remaining Leaving Certificate subjects — [266] Agricultural Science and Physics and Chemistry (combined) — is well advanced. The introduction of each of the revised syllabi has been supported by comprehensive in-service programmes for teachers.

Additional equipment grants have been provided to schools, and laboratories continue to be refurbished as part of the ongoing school building programme. In that context, €16 million was issued to schools in 2004 to support the implementation of the revised Junior Certificate Science syllabus.

A review of grading of subjects in the Leaving Certificate and initial reports on teacher training have been undertaken.

A review of mathematics at second level is being undertaken by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).

Investment in the Programme of Research in Third Level Institutes (PRTLI) is continuing apace to enhance and promote world class standards in research, innovation and development. Between this programme and the various grants to the Research Councils, and other sources, some €102.5 million was invested in third level institutions in 2005.