A Donegal student has spoken out about the real impact of postponing this year’s Leaving Cert exams amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Last Friday, final year students were told that their summer exams would be moved to the last week of July or early August, subject to public health advice. The entry date for first year students to higher education will subsequently be delayed.
As students anxiously await confirmation of timetables and adjustments, one local student has said the postponement failed to consider the impact of the upheaval on young people’s mental health.
Charles Gallagher, a Leaving Cert student at PCC Falcarragh, is the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union Regional Officer for Donegal and works with Jigsaw’s Donegal Youth Advisory Panel and the National Youth Council.
In this contribution to Donegal Daily, Charles shares his personal experience of the delay:
These as it’s been said many times are unprecedented times for us here in Ireland but also for us as world, with COVID-19 spreading like wild fire on a daily bases especially in countries like the UK, US and Spain things are tough for everyone. Thankfully the Irish government took precautions quickly and decisively to flatten the curve.
The Government along with the Department of Education and the State Examinations Commission have in this leaving cert students view have failed us all. How have they failed you? They have failed us in one very important way especially for the young people of Donegal and that is our mental health.
I have seen online in the last 2 weeks since the restrictions were put in place that adults online and offline are frankly being very hurtful and immature towards us young people about the Leaving Cert exams. This has to stop. Not all of us are lazy not all of us like complaining and if that’s what you think they I don’t know what to tell you.
I go to a community school Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola or P.C.C. Falcarragh as it is more popularly known. P.C.C. is a great school with great staff and a great Principal and Deputy Principal. Who all try their hardest to give us the education that we needed when we are in school and when we aren’t at school. I would like to thank them for that, as they have got me and my peers through difficult times, with exam stress in particular.
The Taoiseach and Minister McHugh along with the Department and the SEC need to take this into consideration when making these types of decisions that are vitally important to not just our wellbeing or our mothers and fathers wellbeing but to our futures as well!
I’m also the Irish Second-Level Students Union Regional Officer for Donegal and everyone on the National Student Executive like our President Ciara Fanning have been doing a fantastic job to uphold to the highest standards the student voice in which is the fairest way for students and the postponement to July/August is not the fairest way.
The public announcement happened at 4pm on the 10th and there was a meeting with shareholders to talk about the state exams at 3:30pm on the 10th, 30mins that’s all they gave the shareholders in our education 30mins! It is obvious by this that there is blatant disregard for the views, voice and mental wellbeing of the students even though the team at ISSU are trying their best to let all this be heard in the best way they possibly can!
Myself as a Leaving Cert student since 5th year, I myself have struggled tremendously with my work over the last year and half, as I have ADHD and Dyslexia both which I embrace proudly as they have made me the confident young man everyone tells me I am today. There is an educational down side to them though with my ADHD I can’t concentrate and I can’t retain most information I learn in school I get easily stressed out and sometimes depressed over the Leaving Cert and at one point in January was considering dropping out all together! But I didn’t because I knew by June I would go in with my head held high and pass all of my exams. Then my mocks came which broke that into a million pieces but again I thought it’s fine June is ages away we have 4 months until then but now 3 of those months are gone and I will never get them back ever again.
Postponing the Leaving Cert in my own view is causing more mental strain and depression in young people. I know it would be hard to implement but predicted grades is the way to go or a “No Detriment” policy.
So I ask the students of Donegal to voice their opinions to Minster McHugh as he is also our TD he is there to represent us as constituents in Donegal!
I thank for taking your time to read this, stay safe and stay home it will help to save lives.