24/1/2018 Pictured at the launch of Teacher Preparation in Ireland: History, Policy and Future Directions were Professor Kathy Hall and book authors Professor Judith Harford (UCD), Professor Tom O’Donoghue (University Western Australia) and Professor Teresa O’Doherty (MIC). The pioneering publication relates to the introduction of the ‘free education’ introduced in 1967, providing an exposition on the nature of teacher preparation for teaching in primary and second-level schools both before and after the initiative was taken. Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22
Teacher Preparation in Ireland publication examines history, policy and future direction of Irish education
Just over fifty years ago, the then Fianna Fáil Minister for Education Donogh O’Malley announced plans for free second-level education, a move that was probably the most significant initiative taken in regard to education in Ireland following Independence from Britain in 1922 to the present.
At the time, about a third – or 17,000 children – who finished primary school were dropping out of education; at 15 years of age, fewer than 50 percent were still in full-time education. Within a decade of the policy change, participation rates in second-level had doubled. Today, Ireland has one of the highest rates of second-level completion in the EU, with more than 90 percent of the population completing the Leaving Cert.
According to the authors of a recent publication, teacher education in Ireland over the last decade has become an issue of public policy. This activity—previously hidden within the higher education landscape—has now become the subject of much comment and debate. ‘Teacher Preparation in Ireland: History, Policy and Future Directions’ written by Professor Teresa O Doherty, Dean of Education, Mary Immaculate College (MIC); Professor Judith Harford, UCD and Professor Thomas O Donoghue, University of Western Australia, provides a worthy contribution to this debate.
The publication, which was launched in MIC by Professor Kathy Hall from UCC, relates to the introduction of the ‘free education’ introduced in 1967, providing an exposition on the nature of teacher preparation for teaching in primary and second-level schools both before and after the initiative was taken. It traces the history of teacher preparation through a number of stages; from education for nation building in the new post-colonial society to partake in the recent neo-liberal agenda sweeping through education systems throughout the world.
According to one of the authors, Professor Teresa O Doherty, Dean of Education at Mary Immaculate College the authors hope to “provide a history of teacher education which would be useful to the policymakers, so that armed with a sound knowledge of the background of programmes and colleges, they could better understand the radical developments which are occurring. Secondly, the authors hope that by writing from ‘within teacher education’, that some of the challenges associated with the universalisation of teacher education might be teased out and inform future policy development”.
Launching the publication Professor Hall, Professor of Education, UCC, referred to the book as being “a fabulously rich resource for anyone seeking to understand what shaped teacher education in Ireland over the past century. An under-researched aspect within the history of (Irish) education, teacher education is now recognised as central to the quality of education of a country’s citizens and so is an unprecedented focus of scrutiny by policymakers and scholars. Teacher education has emerged as a field of study in its own right. These pioneering authors have provided a pivotal historical base to that field in Ireland and, in the process; have identified challenges and avenues for further consideration and exploration”.
She continued to say that the book will be welcomed not just by those interested in the history of education here and elsewhere, but also by those interested in comparative and policy studies internationally.
Teacher Preparation in Ireland: History, Policy and Future Directions is published by Emerald Publishing Limited and is available to purchase here.
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