Monday, March 05, 2007

Lies, damn lies and statistics

So Irish schools are ranked close to the bottom of an EU-wide league table for the provision of physical education (PE) classes, according to a new EU report. The report also notes that despite the recommended Department of Education guideline of 60 minutes per week, PE is not taught in some Irish primary schools. Quality of provision of PE also varies, with research showing three-quarters of classes last less than 30 minutes.

This is interesting in the light of a Dáil Exchange at Leaders Questions last Wednesday. FG leader Enda Kenny questioned Taoiseach Bertie Ahern about the level of drug experimentation among children aged 15 and under. Apparently, Ireland was ranked 4th worst overall and worst among girls in that age group in an International survey.

Bertie’s response was to criticise those who picked up on these negative statistics, while ignoring other aspects of that survey which portrayed a more positive aspect of Irish youth. As an example, he cited a finding that Irish children were ranked among the most active in that same survey - the implication being that this was as a result of Government policy in this area - compensating in some way for their lack of action/success in the under-age drugs scene.

Now we can see that whatever success is being achieved on the “activity” scale, it has nothing to do with Government policy.

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