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25th Feb 2019

Calls made to restore geography as a core Junior Cert subject

Dave Hanratty

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In 2018, both geography and history were removed as core Junior Cert subjects.

Though both are available to study as optional choices, the move to drop them as core subjects led to much debate.

As of early 2019, the removal of history is under review.

Now, the heads of geography departments at six universities have penned an open letter, criticising the decision to drop the subject as a mandatory practice.

Speaking on RTÉ Morning Ireland on Monday morning, Dr Kieran Hickey of University College Cork noted the “critical” importance of geography as a non-optional Junior Cert subject.

“This is something that we have been fighting since the idea came up several years ago,” he noted.

“It is a critical subject. It deals with human environment relations. It deals with how we live on the planet and it’s critically important going forward.

“Given all of the environment problems and other social problems that we have at the moment – not just locally but also globally, as well – it’s one of those subjects that tries to deal with these in a realistic way,” Hickey summarised.

Hickey went on to argue that geography provides necessary skills for students, particularly with regards to understanding and deciphering maps and specific data and information.

Asked what he and his fellow open letter signees could do to reinstall geography as a core subject, Hickey sounded an optimistic note.

“It’s obviously a Department of Education decision, and we’re pushing very hard to get them to change it,” he said.

“The fact that they have accepted to reconsider history means that there’s some flexibility left and we would hope that they would look again at geography in this context.

“It’s so crucial, given the range of environmental problems that we see daily in the press and in the media, to have a subject that actually deals directly with these issues and to remove it from the Junior Cert at a critical time in young people’s education… it is very, very shocking and very surprising,” he added.