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Senator Aideen Hayden

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I share the concerns raised by Senators Barrett and Jim D'Arcy about the leaving certificate paper. My daughter is sitting the leaving certificate and she and many of her friends are hanging on, their nerves in shreds, particularly this week. For many of these children, their whole futures are riding on this; that is how they perceive it. It is particularly troubling to hear the Irish Mathematics Teachers Association in dispute with the Department of Education and Skills as to whether some of the questions were even on the syllabus.
It is ridiculous in this day and age to have everything hanging on one exam like this. For an exam to go wrong in this way for students does not just affect that exam, but every subsequent exam the students sit because it will undermine their belief in how they are getting on during those exams. We should ask the Minister to deal with this and to bring forward a reform agenda not just on the setting of papers, but on how the entire leaving certificate is formulated, putting such pressure on young people. In the past 20 years no one has asked me what I got in my leaving certificate but that makes no difference to the way students sitting that exam feel today.
I welcome the changes announced by the Minister for Social Protection in her review of rent supplement limits. She has introduced higher limits in some urban areas. The Opposition was concerned about rent supplement levels in Fingal and they have been adjusted. I welcome that, particularly the rent supplement limits for single people, who have had real difficulties in accessing accommodation. It is, however, a concern that these limits are only being reviewed every 18 months. It is evident to all of us that there is an increasing demand for housing, particularly rented housing, in larger urban areas. Reviewing rent supplement limits every 18 months is not sufficient to keep up with what is happening in the market.
I have stated before and I am stating again my belief that there will be a significant and acute housing shortage in the country in the near future. I ask the Leader to have the Minister of State with responsibility for housing come into the House to talk about national strategies on this shortage.