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A Different View

Fix the foundations – stop papering over the cracks

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Louise Comer and Sean Conneely, who were married recently in St Patrick's Church, Glenamaddy. The reception was held in Abbey Hotel, Roscommon. Photo: Maurice Sirr Photography.

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

There is much to be proud of when it comes to our education system – but let’s not allow our successes to plaster over the flaws.

The recent statistics on drop-out levels from our higher education system were shocking – and clearly something has to be done.

But this also has to be seen in context – and then you can either console yourself that we’re not so bad, or more probably conclude that this is a European crisis, if not a global one.

Eurostat figures from 2013 show that Ireland has the highest proportion of young people who have successfully completed third-level education in the EU.

The figures showed that across the 27 EU member states in 2012, 35.8 per cent of 30 to 34 year olds had completed third-level education.

In Ireland, more than half of 30 to 34 year olds (51.1 per cent) have completed third level.

Another survey, this one from the OECD, ranked Ireland as tenth highest in the world for the proportion of its adults with third level degrees, with 37 per cent as compared to Canada on top of the list with 51 per cent.

It will surprise no one who has lived through the era that 1965 to 2003 saw a growth of 592% in Ireland’s third level student population.

So in a nutshell, we’re doing just fine in steering our young people into and through college, and if we have a high drop-out rate it’s partly because we’ve so many more going in there in the first place.

Even on student attrition, we’re not alone – figures from 2012 show the drop-out rate in Germany is 28 per cent, in France it’s 42 per cent and Italy even higher at 45 per cent. The UK in contrast is less than nine per cent.

By comparison, the average drop-out rate between first year and second year across Ireland’s seven universities, IT’s and other colleges was 15 per cent – although it is as high as 80 per cent on particular courses.

And all have around the same percentage of young people in third-level education – UK and Italy at 43%, Germany at 42%, and France at 39 per cent.

By comparison – and to be completely parochial about it – Galway sees an impressive 60 per cent of its school-leavers head straight for third level.

All of that suggests there is much to be proud of – third-level education provides a highly qualified potential workforce.

This is recognised by the multi-nationals who come here to establish major bases, because tax breaks on their own are not enough.

But still too many students fall through the net – and there are many reasons for this.

The Union of Students in Ireland would argue that it’s down to the cost of education and there is clearly merit in that.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Stay young by making sure you don’t let the old man in!

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Clint Eastwood is 91 years old, and he’s been acting since 1955. He’s been directing for half a century since Play Misty for Me – and he released his latest movie in the latter half of last year.

If you’ve seen Cry Macho, you can also see he’s slowed down – although he still throws a punch and rides a horse better than a man three or four decades younger.

But it’s his philosophy regarding old age that is even more inspiring than his stellar career.

A couple of years back, he was asked how he planned to celebrate his 88th birthday.

“I am going to start a new movie,” he replied.

“What keeps you going?” he was asked.

“I get up every day and don’t let the old man in.”

And therein lies the secret – Clint doesn’t know or acknowledge that he’s 88 or 91 or any age other than the one he clings to in his head.

He may well be the oldest man to both star and direct a major motion picture – but the former Mayor of Carmel has no time for retrospection because there’s more work to be done.

Not everyone can be so philosophical of course because physical and mental health can bring the most optimistic of us to our knees.

But if you think young, you might just pull it off.

I’ve an aunt and uncle who deliver the Meals on Wheels around their part of South County Dublin, volunteering a day or two a week to bring hot food to old people who cannot easily get out of their own home.

Both my aunt and uncle are comfortably into their eighties; it’s just that they don’t think like that.

Of course they minded themselves during Covid, but as far as the Meals on Wheels logistics went, this must meant leaving the meals on the porch and ringing the doorbell before moving back a safe distance so as not to compromise the recipient.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Worst part of Covid is the cover-up of smiles

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It was John Prine who famously sung about his illegal smile – although in his case, it was a reference into happiness that might have been helped on its way with a contribution from artificial stimulants.

These days smiling isn’t illegal of course, but because, for the most part, you have to do it behind a face covering, it makes it kind of tricky – and difficult to spot.

That’s not entirely true obviously, because we are allowed to walk the streets with faces uncovered even if quite a number opt to leave their mask on.

But while we’re not going to pick of fight with the anti-maskers any more than we would be the anti-vaxxers – or people who shout and shake their fists at the wind generally (or Novak Djokovic or even his mother) – we can lament the lack of visible facial expression that’s the consequence of a cover-up.

It’s ironic of course as well to mention John Prine and Covid in the one piece, because it was Covid that robbed the music world of his unique talent. And that should be another good reason to protect ourselves from suffering the same fate.

It’s only some days that you’d miss seeing a smile, because we know that the mask can help save lives – but how sad it is that such a casual and fleeting greeting has to be hidden.

The one thing is that you can at least still tell genuine smilers from forced ones – because their eyes light up; they still twinkle over their mask.

The fake smilers only ever moved their lips; their smiles never made it past the nose – more of a grimace than a greeting.

So now all of that happens unbeknownst to the rest of the world – and we’re none the wiser because it doesn’t rise to embrace their entire face.

Mask wearing has been a drag for almost everyone – except curmudgeons and publicity-shy For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Times have changed – and you just can’t beat a leftie anymore

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

When I say proudly that I was possibly one of the first generation of lefties to survive after a long era of extermination, it’s not an admission of some shady Soviet Union past.

The lefties in this case were the citogs; the children who wrote with their left hands – and we were among the first five-year-olds not to have it literally beaten out of us.

Now the stats show that around one in ten people is left-handed – among them Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, JK Rowling, Tom Cruise, Bob Geldof and Robert di Niro for a start.

There were always left-handers of course, because the Irish primary school system didn’t stretch to all corners of the world and therefore some people didn’t have their left hand tied behind their backs to force them to ‘write properly’.

And obviously this wasn’t just an Irish phenomenon; the frequency of left-handed writing in the US, for example, was just over two per cent in 1932, but, once the restraining and slapping stopped, it rose to over eleven per cent by 1972.

JFK was a leftie in this sense – as, coincidently, was Marilyn Monroe – along with Aristotle, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Reubens, Caesar, Einstein, Bonaparte, Churchill and Jack the Ripper.

But for generations, the world really only wanted right-handed writers; sometimes because they believed that left-handers were, quite literally, unclean.

In some parts of the world – in order to preserve cleanliness where sanitation was an issue – people used their right hand, their dominant hand, for eating, handling food, and social interactions.

The left hand would then be used for personal hygiene, specifically after urination and defecation.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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