Offaly falls just shy of the national average when it comes to school retention rates, according to data contained in a new report published by the Department of Education.
According to the report, which looks at students who entered second level schools around the country in 2007, 96.48 per cent of that group in Offaly completed their Junior Cert, while 88.65 per cent went on to complete their Leaving Cert in either 2012 or 2013.
The figures put Offaly less than half a per cent behind the national average figures for those completing the Junior Cert cycle, and almost one and a half per cent behind the average for Leaving Cert completions.
The highest Leaving Cert retention rate in the country was Meath at 92.94 per cent, followed by Mayo at 92.93 per cent. Carlow took the bottom spot of the retention table at both Junior and Leaving Cert level.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn welcomed the figures, which reached 90 per cent for the second year in a row and puts the number of Irish young people completing second level education among the highest in the EU.
The data also shows that retention rates have risen by almost eight per cent in a decade.
“We want to see as many young people as possible staying in education and gaining the right skills and knowledge to be able to secure fulfilling jobs,” the Minister said.
ASTI general secretary Pat King added that the report is a success story for the Irish education system.
“The fact that Irish second-level schools have one of the highest retention rates in the world is testament to the value that parents and young people place on education,” he said.
“Irish second-level schools offer a broad range of curricula and programmes which cater for a wide variety of interests, talents and abilities. Despite external pressures, second-level schools in Ireland strive to be student centred by offering an inclusive and holistic education to their students, including plenty of extra-curricular opportunities.
Mr King also highlighted education cutbacks however, saying that his organisation will continue to campaign for the “proper resourcing” of second-level education in order to maintain and build on the service.