Dylan Gallagher, a 6th year student living in rural Leitrim, is attending Carrick-on-Shannon community school and is currently preparing to sit his mocks next week.
He has written to the Leitrim Observer to express his dissatisfaction at the changes being made to this year's examination papers as announced yesterday.
"Over the last 2 years my education has been greatly disrupted. During the 2019/20 school calendar year I encountered my first disruption to education because of Covid-19. At this point I took the decision to repeat 5th year as I was already anxious about the time I had lost in school. While my previous school at the time operated remotely through Microsoft teams, there were no live classes instead prescribed self-learning.
"Covid-19 only promised to get worse, which it did. This led me to make the further decision to move to a new school and repeat 5th year there.
"Over the winter of 2020/21 school closures reoccurred, this time the school I’m attending offered live classes. While this allowed us to tackle the majority of challenges, it simply wasn’t a suitable form of education. Living in rural Leitrim meant there was many challenges not only for the students but also for our teachers.
"I want to acknowledge how amazing our teachers and principal have been over the last two years, they’ve supported us through so much and are constantly interacting with us and providing support.
"I also want to acknowledge the fact that many of us have missed large amounts of education not only through school closures, but student and teacher have missed time through being listen as contact as well as being diagnosed with covid 19.
"Personally, I’ve been employed all through the pandemic and have missed numerous days waiting on test results as well as missing 2 weeks because of being diagnosed with Covid. The long-term effects I’ve since experienced have greatly affected my energy levels and my ability to concentrate in class.
"While I welcome the changes being made to the examination papers, it simply is not sufficient, it does not justify the education we have missed. The basis of the minister of education, Norma Foley’s argument against a hybrid leaving certificate was the lack of materials to mark us off, the junior certificate being listed as one of her main examples.
"Might I highlight the fact that students are now expected to sit the most important exam of their life without the experience of a state examination.
"I’ve studied politics and society for the last 2 years; I'm aspiring to be a journalist and a politician. I’ve learned to stand up for something I believe in especially something that’s going to affect my future."
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