STUDENTS from abroad may be obliged to study Irish in school under new measures being suggested by the Department of Education.
The department has issued a statement announcing that it is finalising a review of the “policy and practice in relation to exemptions from Irish”.
According to The Irish Times, who gained exclusive access to the document, the review will assess the “potential of ending the opt-out facility for new entrants to Ireland”.
At the moment, students who have been abroad for a period of time or say they have no understanding of English can choose to opt-out of studying Irish in school.
There is growing concern over the fairness of these conditions given that between 1,000 and 2,000 students have been receiving exemptions on this basis each year.
A growing trend is that of students in the senior cycle studying the language up until the State exams, and then dropping it.
The review being carried out by the Department of Education will look to set out new rules for the exemption from the study of Irish, including an online consultation process.
The review will also examine the granting of exemptions from studying Irish on the basis of special education needs.
While students or parents are currently required to submit a psychologist’s report in order to secure an exemption for reasons surrounding disability.
The validity of some of these privately commissioned psychologist’s reports have been queried, with more than 3,800 students being granted an exemption to the 2016 Leaving Cert Irish exam on the grounds of a disability.
There is no doubt that the figures of those who seek exemptions are staggering and should the public be consulted on the Irish issue, it will surely trigger a debate on whether or not it should be compulsory in Irish schools.