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There were huge provisions and developments of education between 1965 and 1984. In 1962 a review of second-level education in the Republic was initiated by the Department of Education, in co-operation with the OECD, culminating in the publication of the report Investment in Education (1965). This report had significant consequences for the development of educational policy.
It dealt with two main themes: the capacity of the educational system to meet skill requirements for economic growth, and inequalities in levels of participation. It found that the numbers of those giving up school, together with a restricted curriculum in many secondary schools, would result in a shortage in the qualified labour (particularly in relation to technical qualifications) necessary for economic development. In addition, the report dealt with considerable socio-economic and regional disparities in participation rates.
Investment in Education provided the impetus for the introduction of the free education scheme in 1967. This scheme removed fees for participating secondary schools (to reduce socio-economic inequalities) and introduced a school transport scheme (to reduce regional inequalities). The scheme led to a significant increase in the number of enrolments in second-level schools; however, socio-economic and regional disparities persist (Lalor, 2003)
In the words of Luke Gibbons (1996), this report was ‘set out to remove the school from the sacristy and place it in line with the need for greater technological change in society’. The report helped to shape the future of Irish Education and through giving greater impetus to nascent trends, contributed to an expansion of the system and to issues such as social inequality and educational effectiveness being placed on the political agenda.
Overall, however, the report was part of a pragmatic rather than ideological response to the educational challenges raised by a modernising society (O’Sullivan, 1989). The report highlighted many facts including the high instance of school leavers, low rate of vocational student entering third level courses, inequality of opportunity – unfair access to secondary education and also the need for wider participation in education and for longer retention of pupils in the educational system.
This is only a few highlights whereas there were four major recommendations set out by the report of the investment for education which include: 1. The use of scholarship schemes to increase participation. 2. Need for policy planning to improve education at all levels. 3. Possible amalgamation of small national schools. 4. Teachers be kept up to date with ‘new knowledge’. From this report many major developments within the Irish school system have occurred. These developments include