The Irish government wants to play its part to support educational attainment in Northern Ireland.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin was speaking during the launch of a report for his Shared Island Unit from the Economic and Social Research Institute.
Mr. Martin said that through the Shared Island Unit, his government is able to provide “impartial evidence and analysis” across issues North and South.
The latest research looked at: how the different education systems on the island serve students, families and communities; how North and South can learn from each other; and what more can be done together to enhance educational experience and outcomes for all.
The taoiseach said: “Today’s ESRI report sets out clearly that, unfortunately, overall education achievement and school completion rates in Northern Ireland lag behind both the rest of the UK and Ireland.
“As does the impact of efforts in recent years to support education attainment in disadvantaged communities.
“In the South, while there is no room for complacency, our DEIS and School Completion programs have achieved important, sustained improvements over the last decade.
"I know that this position is a serious concern for political and community leaders and for all involved in education in Northern Ireland. The Executive has rightly put a focus on addressing it, last year agreeing to take forward the recommendations of the ‘Fair Start’ report of the Expert Panel on Educational Underachievement.”
He added: “That is why the government will seek to work with the Executive and the UK Government to enhance our cooperation and support on educational attainment issues in Northern Ireland in the time ahead.”
The taoiseach added that in the South the government was introducing the most “radical changes” to the Leaving Certificate exam in half a century. In the North, the Executive had commenced an independent review of education at all levels.
“There is real potential both for learning and exchange, North and South, and also cooperation to jointly do new things,” the taoiseach said.