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In Ireland all children of the state are obliged to attend school and receive an education. Compulsory education in Ireland is enforced by the school attendance act 1926 and the education welfare act 2000. The acts insure all children are provided with an equal opportunity to education. There are three levels of education available. Each student is required by law to attend up to the age of 16 or to Junior Certificate level. Prior to the existence of compulsory education many children had no access to basic education because their parents may have not been able to afford tuition. That problem has been eradicated due to the introduction of free public schooling. Basic education prepares a child intellegualy for mature adult life.
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Education shall prepare the child for an active adult life in a free society and foster respect for the child’s parents his or her cultural identity, language and values and for the cultural back round and values for others (Article 29 of unconventional of the rights of a child)
As a result of compulsory education, Ireland has one of the highest education rates in the world. 81% of Irish students’ complete second level and approximately 60% of these students proceed to higher education.
Compulsory education follows a holistic approach. Although it is important to focus on the academic aspect of education it is also vital to point out the social aim of education. The main purpose of a holistic approach to education is to prepare individuals for a competent adult life emotionally, physically and spiritually. It aims to provide each child with the ability to seek out their own uniqness. Few schools are committed to holistic principles but many teachers try to use the ideas behind holistic education. By teachers using real life experience and events and not just delivering facts and notes, helps engage a student into a subject making learning fun and enjoyable. Self direction and resilience are major components of holistic principles. With the guidance and support for teachers, children can learn from their own experience and in turn can build on them.
“The highest function of education is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life as a whole” (Jiddu Krishnaminti)
Education provides a daily routine, responsibility and activities, which contributes to a healthy well rounded development.
Compulsory education discourages child labour. Child labour is the exploitive employment of a child under the minimum legal age limit. The minimum age limit to work differs in each country. Ireland’s minimum age limit is age 15. Child labour occurs when there is limited access to education, no child labour laws and no employee rights. Working children are under paid. This in turn sees the high demand for low paid employees and leaves less employment available to adults. The cycle then continues. In 1919 the International Labour Organisation began to address the major issue of child labour. This contributed to the introduction of the School Attendance Act in Ireland in 1926. The act obliged children between the age of 5 and 16 to attend school. Previous to compulsory education the majority of families may have relied on children to leave education to help obtain basic necessities for the family. This undoubtedly denied children their right to education. The more education available to individuals can only benefit Ireland’s economic growth. “Our progress of a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.”(John F Kennedy) Presently in Ireland child labour is near to non existence. Child labour has decreased from 25% in 1960 to 10% in 2003 mainly due to the introduction of compulsory education
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Illiteracy levels continue to decline since the introduction of compulsory education. Illiteracy is the inability to read or write in any language. Prior to the existence of the compulsory education acts, reading and writing were seen as a skilled profession and only the rich and important had access to gain these skills. Illiterate people were unemployable even in the most basic working environment as many could not even fill out simple information details. Currently in Ireland illiteracy may not be attributed to poor attendance in school. Many individuals who experience literacy difficulties have physical or psychological issues. Illiterate people were often seen as carless, immature and unintelligent individuals. . Since physical and psychological issues are now often detected early on in school and addressed, ilitricy and discrimination are uncommon. There are five levels which literacy is assed at. Level one is classified as having very poor or no literacy skills. Level three is classed on having an adequate amount of skills to cope with life. Level five is seen as highest level of literacy which individuals can process difficult information. In Ireland 17% of 16 to 25 year olds are at level one compared to 44% of 55 to 65 year olds. This percentage is mainly due to enforced attendance in school. Although literacy levels are declining people who don’t readily use there literacy skills daily can easily get out of practice.
Compulsory education provides a skilful and qualified workforce. A qualified and skilful workforce is necessary for economic growth within a country. Education helps individuals become self sufficient therefore able to earn a living. Educated individuals create wealth for the country and these attract foreign investment. Foreign investment was up 10% since 2008. Even with Irelands economic down turn Ireland is still capable of attracting investment due to Ireland’s competent and highly skilful workforce. Presently in Ireland 81% of Irish students complete second level education. Approximately 60% of these students continue on to further or higher education. Compulsory education gives the individual the incentive to further their education. Being obliged to attend school to Junior certificate level gives the student a chance to make mature and sensible choices regarding their future. Education is the main component in the structure of adult life.
Ethnic minorities in Ireland are socially accepted due to compulsory education. An ethnic minority are a group of people who have their own cultural values. These minorities hold different views on culture, religion and language. The travelling community are one of Ireland’s oddest ethnic minorities, accounting for 0.5% of the population. Approximately 7,769 traveller individuals are in education in Ireland toady. Prior to the compulsory education act the majority of travellers did not attend school. Traveller parents may have felt education was not necessary as they were traditional self employed. Traveller individuals were also less likely to obtain employment due to their life style and were often socially excluded and discriminated. Traveller children who attended school prior to the education act were thought in the same class room regardless of age. Presently in Ireland 100% of traveller children are in age appropriate classes. The traveller community have become integrated with society. People from a wider community have begun to understand their cultural differences and needs. Today the department of education and science employee 503 resource teachers for travellers (RTT). The resource teachers address their ethnic and cultural needs and help promote cultural awareness to other students.
Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups” Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26 (2)”
Compulsory education leads to equal opportunity for every individual regardless of back round. The traveller community are now employed in all sectors of the workforce. A number of travels now attend third level education.
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