By Frank BarrySaturday, August 16th, 2014
Irish Educational Studies recently published a special issue to commemorate the landmark report Investment in Education (which was commissioned in 1962 and released in 1965). The report’s finding that half of all children were leaving school by the age of 13 generated newspaper headlines and created the environment for Donogh O’Malley’s ‘free education’ initiative of 1966. An appendix to the report provided information on the educational attainment of the population in 14 European countries (including seven in Eastern Europe) as well as in the US, Japan and Israel. No equivalent statistics could be produced for Ireland. Questions relating to educational attainment were included in the Irish Population Census from the following year. This issue of Irish Educational Studies includes two witness accounts by key players, Áine Hyland, an RA to the report team, and Seán O’Connor, first head of the Development Branch of the Department of Education. The issue, entitled Investment in Education and the Intractability of Inequality, also contains four academic papers. Mine is available here. The abstract reads as follows:
Most studies of the relationship between education and economic development focus on the line of causation running from the former to the latter. The present paper studies how the pattern of Irish development has influenced the structure of the Irish education system. The first section sets out the economic context of late industrialisation within which Investment in Education was commissioned and which determined the reception that the report received. The report’s release would be followed shortly thereafter by a series of policy measures that would expand secondary-school enrolment and graduation rates and massively increase the demand for third-level places. Later sections analyse the subsequent evolution of Ireland’s binary system of tertiary education and the recent attention devoted to science, technology and innovation policy and the ‘fourth level’ (postgraduate) sector. Concluding comments focus on the continuing relevance of the perspective embodied in Investment in Education for the surprisingly high numbers who continue to leave the Irish education system without a Leaving Certificate qualification.