Irish Education Minister Proposes Road Safety Lessons for Older Students Amid Rising Fatalities


In light of recent fatalities involving young people on Irish roads, Minister for Education, Norma Foley, is considering implementing road safety lessons for Leaving Certificate students. A letter penned last week to the Road Safety Authority by Ms. Foley proposed the exploration of opportunities to amplify road safety education within schools, particularly in the senior cycle.

Though Junior Cycle students undertake modules on road safety, Ms. Foley pinpointed the significance of directing focus to older students, who are most likely to be in the process of learning to drive.

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In her letter to Sam Waide, chairman of the Road Safety Authority, Ms. Foley expressed her concern over “a significant and saddening increase in fatalities on Irish roads in the past year,” many of which tragically involved children and young people. She stressed the importance of raising awareness to mollify this worrying trend.

Ms. Foley requested that the authority probe into potential avenues for implementing awareness-raising measures in schools, specifically during the senior cycle. During the transition year, there’s leeway for enhancing road safety awareness, she said, encouraging the Road Safety Authority to contribute to the public consultation on the redevelopment of the transition year.

In recent unfortunate incidents, four young individuals lost their lives in a car crash in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, as they were travelling to celebrate their Leaving Cert results. In addition, two teenagers died in a road traffic collision in Co Monaghan in July.

The Road Safety Authority currently operates an outreach team that visits schools to encourage safe road behaviour, presenting safer methods of walking, cycling, and commuting by car or bus.

Simultaneously, Ms. Foley has been requested to provide free schoolbooks at the second level in the impending Budget to alleviate financial strain on parents. According to the Children’s Rights Alliance, school expenses impose a substantial burden on low-income families. On average, meeting the “basic needs” of a first-year second-level student escalates to nearly €1,000.

This follows last year’s budget provision, which offered free schoolbooks to primary school students for the first time.

Providing free schoolbooks at the primary level has resulted in a cost of just above €50 million. Extending this to post-primary level would require an additional €70 million or more.

In addition, the alliance appealed for an increase in the appointment of education welfare services staff to stimulate school attendance, and an expansion of the home school community liaison scheme to assist struggling families.

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, remarked, “Poverty is not inevitable. “Policy decisions and the appropriate political action can drastically improve the lives of children and young people.”

Although the Deis Programme has proven successful, a considerable number of children still struggle to unlock their full potential in education.

Ms Ward highlighted that services aimed at early school leavers were being stretched thin and that children from low-income families, who comprise half of all children living in poverty, do not have the same opportunities as their peers. She stressed the need for the government to continue to tackle the cost of education and address inequality by expanding on provisions of care and support for children facing numerous challenges.