It has long been accepted that there is a direct correlation between the number of students in a class and the quality of education that those students receive. For example, a class of ten students is more likely to achieve better results than a class of forty. The reason for this is obvious; students in small classes receive a more personal, direct and therefore better quality tutoring from their teachers.
It is because of this obvious fact that teachers, parents and associated organisations have been campaigning for decades to reduce class sizes in Ireland, which currently has the second highest teacher/pupil ratio in the EU. `They have largely failed in their efforts principally due to the consistent refusal by successive governments to provide the necessary funds.
Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin was on RTE (3rd item) last Friday mouthing the most recent excuse for not providing these critical funds.
“I think everybody recognises that there is a tighter budgetary situation this year and everything in our Programme for Government is in fact predicated on strong economic growth and it’s our major responsibility as a government to make sure that we keep the economy strong.”
Obviously, Ms. Hanafin believes that a pay increase of €38,000 for Bertie Ahern and €25,000 for her and her fellow ministers should not be considered within the ‘tighter budgetary situation’.
When she was finally pinned down on the matter she made the astonishing claim:
“There is no relationship at all, on any international study, to the quality of education and to the numbers in the class.”
If that’s the case, she was asked, why worry about class sizes at all? She replied as all Irish politicians do – with waffle.