European languages in primary schools

 

Sir, – The headline “Taoiseach wants European languages to be taught across all primary schools” (News, January 19th) evokes memories of a very similar headline in 1997 when the then-minister of education, Micheál Martin, announced the launch of Schools IT2000. The Schools IT 2000’s core objective was to put in place a permanent infrastructure which would ensure that pupils in every school had the opportunity to achieve computer literacy and to equip themselves for participation in the information society. Little did he know at that time how important it was to have teachers and pupils IT-ready for this unforeseen epidemic and online learning.

If he is to proceed with his latest wish to have European languages taught in all primary schools then he needs to talk to the Teaching Council. In September 2012, the Teaching Council decided to introduce a four-year B Ed programme for Irish primary teachers. In its wisdom, the Teaching Council decided to drop the need for student primary teachers to undertake an academic subject during the four-year programme.

Prior to this change, students attending colleges of education had the option to take a subject such as French, German, Spanish, along with maths, Irish, music, history, geography, etc, during their three-year programme.

In 2012, the then-minister for education, Ruairí Quinn, stated that, “the three-year course for primary school teachers will be extended to four years. An awful lot of the traditional quasi-academic first arts degree qualifications which had little or no relevance to the teaching of primary teaching will be stripped out and the focus will be exclusively on pedagogic skills.”

Might I suggest that the Teaching Council reintroduce this academic option in Colleges of Education so that our primary teachers will be able to take a European language to degree level to implement the Taoiseach’s wishes for the future.

His IT2000 policy of 1997 was successful and hopefully his vision for European languages in primary schools will succeed. – Yours, etc,

Dr DAVID O’GRADY,

Killarney,Co Kerry.