A SKIBBEREEN student is far from happy with the government’s decision to postpone the Leaving Cert examinations.
In a strongly-worded letter to the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and to the Minister for Education, Alicia O’Sullivan (18), a sixth-year student in Skibbereen Community School, pleaded with the government to provide clarity and to ensure that students’ safety is paramount.
‘I personally think the announcement on Friday last did not give us the clarity that students are looking for. If anything they have added more questions,’ Alicia told The Southern Star.
‘Although I, like most students, wanted the exams to go ahead, it is simply not possible in a safe manner. It is still hanging over us that even in July/August, they might not be possible. Then, what do we do? We are backlogged even more.’
Alicia, who represented Ireland at the UN Youth Climate Summit where she accompanied the Taoiseach to the General Assembly in New York, is also concerned for students who, like herself, are at high risk as they suffer from compromised immune systems, and other medical conditions.
In her letter to Leo Varadkar, Alicia stated: ‘I myself have an auto-immune disease and am on immune-suppressing medication and this has added worry to the tower of stress that I already have. Will I even be safe when I sit these exams?’
She said this is the last thing a student should be thinking about when they have worked hard for two years for a set of exams that are pushed as ‘the most important exams you’ll ever do’. These are critical things that must be addressed, she told the Taoiseach.
Alicia is also concerned at what she sees as the government’s complete disregard for the views of the students and their representative body, the Irish Secondary Schools Union (ISSU).
‘Unfortunately, the government has had complete disregard for the ISSU and students themselves in this situation and it is demoralising,’ Alicia said.
‘They have added so many questions about timelines, project work, the CAO, students going abroad and these apparent two weeks in school in July, which the ASTI have said teachers are not obliged to even do.’
‘It’s a very worrying and disruptive time for students and I think it’s cruel to expect us to lock ourselves away and focus in the midst of a pandemic, it’s inhumane.
I am very grateful for the work the government is doing to protect the most vulnerable in our society and I think they need to close the book on this problem, not drag it out even longer.’