Forty-five students at the International School in Tripoli, Libya, will sit the Leaving Certificate this June. Under the desert sun, they will apply themselves to the very same papers as the 60,000 or so youngsters who will take the exams here in Ireland.
The ISM international school was founded in 1958 for expatriate pupils whose parents work in the oil business, medical field and the diplomatic community. When the school expanded to include older students in 1995, school officials opted for the Irish Leaving Certificate as the best final examination for their multi-ethnic student population.
“We have students from 52 countries studying at our school,” said Donna McPhee, principal of the International School.
“The Irish Leaving Certificate programme offered us the kind of academic standard and subject spread that we were looking for. As a Canadian myself, I consider the Irish secondary education curriculum to be far superior to the Canadian, US or UK models.”
McPhee contends that the Irish exam system maintains rigorous academic standards and serves stronger students well.
Tripoli is the only location outside the Irish state where the Leaving Cert is held on an annual basis, and the school is charged with complying with the same rules and regulations as Irish schools, with some compromises. For example, students are allowed to take Arabic instead of Irish.
The 45 candidates in Tripoli will take their papers at exactly the same time as their Irish counterparts and completed exam scripts will be returned to the State Examinations Commission in Athlone for marking.
Ms McPhee says parents and students are happy with the programme. “We get no complaints and very few requests for papers to be rechecked.” (The Irish Times)
ISM was formerly known as Oil Companies School (k-9) back in the 80’s. After the American bombing, the school was renamed as CUSAM & have recently renamed the school to ISM. The syllabus used were based on the American curriculum. While I was there, I was surprised when I flip through my Social Studies text book and see pages covered with black inks. We are not to read anything about Zionism, Judaism & Jews. But I remember learning about the greek myths, Roman empire, Mesopotamia etc. My time there have actually changed me & moulded me into the person I am today.