Craig Barrett’s views on Ireland’s need to create a world class education system

imageCraig Barrett, the former chairman of Intel Corporation, was in Ireland last week and spoke at an event in the Royal Irish Academy.  On Saturday morning, February 13th 2010, he shared his views with John Kenny on the Marianne Finucane  Show (click to download the interview) in relation to the need for Ireland to create a world class education system. Mr. Barrett stepped down from his role as Chairman of Intel last summer and shared his views on revamping our education system with the Irish government at Farmleigh last autumn.  In this interview he outlines some of his views in relation to the changes he believes need to be implemented.

He believes we need a new blueprint for our education system and that we have been “coasting” for the past twenty years.  In his view we currently have an “average” education system but we will need a world class system if we are to secure our economic future.  Much of Ireland’s economic success story over the past twenty years has been built on the back of foreign direct investment (FDI) by companies such as Intel, Microsoft and others.  In the future we will need to create new companies within Ireland and to do this we will need to create the best education system in the world at primary, second and third level.

Central to his argument is the need for world class teachers.  He stated that in the US only 2/3 of their Math teachers are Math majors and the remainder are often only one chapter ahead of the students.  He puts forward the controversial  notion of paying teachers according to their performance and to removing non-performing teachers from the system – better known as “payment by results”.  He acknowledges that this is a controversial idea.  However, I wonder does he realise we have been down this road previously in Ireland during the period 1879 to 1924 and that it didn’t have quite the desired effect?   Teacher quality needs to be at the core of our revamped education system and it should place added emphasis on student performance in Maths and Science.  He said that the quality of Ireland’s economy will be directly related to the quality of Ireland’s workforce and the quality of Ireland’s workforce will be related to our education system.  To bring this change about Craig Barrett advocates a bi-partisan approach where politicians from across the political spectrum come together to develop such a new blueprint.  In many ways he is issuing a call to action and we have had a few over the past 24 months.

TeachNet has been suggesting for sometime that we reassess our current education system in light of new global challenges and the changing nature of teaching and learning to meet the needs of a 21st century society.  Recently Lord David Puttnam touched on similar issues at a talk in the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin on the 19th January.  So do you think we need to change or system and how should we ensure that our system attracts and retrains the best teachers, at all three levels, to ensure we create a world class education system?

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