Irish Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn on Thursday approved plans to abolish the Junior Certificate and replace it with a new system, local media reported.
The new system, which will be introduced from 2014, will place a greater emphasis on continuous assessment with exams making up just 60 percent of the final grade, plus extra marks for activities such as debating or drama.
The number of subjects in the new curriculum will be cut from 12 to eight for students in the first three years of their high school education and the focus will switch from "covering the course" to deeper learning and building key skills for life.
Children who are now in fourth class in primary school will be the first to experience the new program.
At a board meeting of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), Quinn said he will put the necessary arrangements in place to begin assessment and consideration of the council's proposals.
Quinn welcomed the recommended limit on the number of subjects but said these issues would have to be explored further, in discussions on implementation.