The Junior Cert – more than just an excuse for binge drinking?


The Junior Cert – more than just an excuse for binge drinking?

The post-results celebrations are well documented and Joe Duffy will be inundated with outraged members of the public calling his show tomorrow to voice their disapproval at the students’ carryings-on, but what else do we know about the Junior Cert?

By Declan Whooley

So today is the big day for Junior Cert students?

Yep, almost 59,000 students will receive or have already received their results today. The main talking points are the high failure rates in languages while results in Maths are improving.

In a nutshell please…

Well in French, 12 per cent of ordinary level students failed while the Honours rate was 69 per cent, the lowest of all higher level subjects.

Maths results are on the up. The failure rate in both higher and ordinary level is down, while there has been an increased uptake for Honours Maths. A total of  19 students achieved the ultimate results with 12 As, with 108 students getting 11As, further proof that the future of the country looks bright.

So what subjects have been the easiest and hardest for students?

Home economics, music, metalwork and woodwork proved the most fruitful, with at least 85% of students in those subjects receiving an honour. Home Economics was the largest higher level honours rate at 95%, though it can prove to be a difficult subject to choose for an adolescent male teenager.

French and History appear to be the toughest subjects at higher level.

So, big celebrations tonight?

While it is a time for celebration, things can get out of hand. Not surprisingly, a European survey found that Irish teenagers binge more than our European counterparts, with a quarter of 15-16 year olds admitting to purchasing alcohol from an off-licence.

It can be a notorious night when the celebrations get into full swing. The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said they receive an increase in calls on the night, while  Alcohol Action Ireland are calling on parents to sit down with their son/daughter to find out what they are planning for the evening in an attempt to minimise potential trouble.

So it should be a busy night in towns and citites throughout the county?

It normally is. A number of areas are attempting to pre-empt any issues with joyous teenagers, with groups in Galway particularly active. A number of local groups, in conjunction with the HSE, have organised a large, supervised free disco to entice revellers. Similar initiatives have helped to reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Are the Government thinking of scrapping the Junior Cert?

They are indeed. In 2009 the Government planned to save  €30 million by replacing the exams entirely with continuous assessment. The Teachers’ Union was up in arms at the proposal and the idea was shelved.

Last year, the Government agreed to introduce change in 2014 with the syllabus broken down to 60% exam and 40% continuous assessment based over two years.

How long has the Junior Cert been around for?

In 1992 the Junior Certificate was introduced to replace the  ‘Group Cert ’ or  ‘Inter Cert ’ as it was known, which had become a bit dated. Twenty years ago the Junior Cert quickly became the minimum requirement for a job in Ireland.

The Junior Cert is only 20 years old?

Yeah it is relatively new in its current existence, though Ireland was a very different place in 1992. Kilkenny and Donegal both reached All-Ireland finals (and won), we had a boxing gold medal from the Olympics and unemployment was around the 15 per cent mark.

Not all that different after all then.