Pupils ‘ignored’ in new Irish syllabus
Pól Ó Muirí
Gaelscoileanna, the national co-ordinating body for schools teaching through the medium of Irish, is concerned that an amended Leaving Certificate syllabus for Irish published last week ignores the needs of pupils with a high standard of Irish. In a statement, the group say that “the substantial reduction in the literature course and the increased marks awarded for the oral exam will have a huge impact on the pupils’ standard of Irish. Ultimately, these changes will mean that pupils from Gaelcholáistí, or indeed capable pupils in English-medium schools will not be suitably challenged by the new Leaving Certificate Irish syllabus. A high standard of Irish in the Gaelcholáistí is necessary in order for students to tackle other subjects studied at Leaving Certificate level through the medium of Irish. Without the correct level of Irish, they would be forced to undertake other subjects through the medium of English”.
The group’s CEO, Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, said that they were “very unhappy” that a circular proposing “sweeping changes for Irish as a subject at Leaving Certificate level was published without consultation with partners and schools. We’re also dissatisfied with the lack of notice given to schools, making it more difficult for them to make the necessary preparations. There will be huge implications for schools and there is a danger that pupils will not be able to attain the high standard of Irish which is currently being achieved. This will result in a shortage of people with a high standard of Irish available to work in professions which demand this, for example, teaching. If the teaching of the language is not made sufficiently challenging, it won’t develop, in terms of literature, journalism etc. This would be disastrous for training colleges and for the future of the Irish language.”
The group want the new Minister for Education, Mary Coughlan, to guarantee an extra Irish subject at Honours Leaving Certificate level to tackle the challenges in written Irish. This, they believe, would provide pupils with a high standard of Irish and a chance to develop their language skills and a proper understanding of Irish literature.
The Irish Times has contacted the Department of Education about the statement from Gaelscoileanna. A spokeswoman from the Department said that they would reply as soon as possible. The response will be posted when it comes.