Irish language education strategy in Gaeltacht areas launched

Policy aims to support Irish as a living indigenous language in Gaeltacht areas

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: launched the first policy in the history of the State dedicated to education in Gaeltacht areas. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: launched the first policy in the history of the State dedicated to education in Gaeltacht areas. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the Government “is strongly committed” to implementing the 20-year strategy on the Irish language.

Mr Kenny made his comments at the launch of the Government’s Polasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta 2017-2022 (Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022) at Scoil Mhic Dara, An Ceathrú Rua, on Friday afternoon.

It is the first time that a strategy focused on addressing the educational needs of Gaeltacht areas has been published since the foundation of the State.

The policy’s primary focus is to strengthen Irish-medium educational provision and to support the use of Irish as a living indigenous language in Gaeltacht areas.

The new policy forms part of the 20-year strategy and sets out a number of measures designed to promote and support the language.

According to the Department of Education, 76 per cent of primary schools and 68 per cent of post-primary schools in Gaeltacht areas report that they operate solely through the medium of Irish.

Under the new strategy, schools will only achieve Gaeltacht school recognition, if they operate entirely through the medium of Irish.

Schools will implement a two-year total-immersion programme in the infant cycle in all Gaeltacht primary schools, during which no English will be taught.

Schools that opt for Gaeltacht school status will have up to five years to achieve this status and additional teaching resources will be provided as schools demonstrate progress towards Gaeltacht school status.

The policy also promises the availability of a full curriculum through Irish for post-primary students “by moving towards” a total-immersion approach in Gaeltacht secondary schools where all subjects, apart from the English and other language curricula, will be taught through Irish.

“The Government is strongly committed to implementing the actions in the 20-Year Strategy for Irish and this Policy on Gaeltacht Education sets out how we will support Gaeltacht schools to provide high-quality, Irish-medium education to the children of the Gaeltacht,” said Mr Kenny.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton said: “I want to ensure that the right conditions exist to develop excellent Irish-medium schools in the Gaeltacht.”

“Under the Policy, schools in the Gaeltacht will have the opportunity from 2017 to seek recognition as Gaeltacht Schools in line with linguistic criteria. I hope that the recognition process will be encouraging and inspiring for schools, and that schools will be attracted to participate in it,” he added.

The policy comes a year after the publication of a report by linguist Conchúr Ó Giollagáin which said that Irish may no longer be the daily language of any Gaeltacht area by 2025, unless urgent remedial action is taken.