As leaving certificate students from across the state start their Irish oral examinations this week, Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty has come out to wish them good luck and to urge the Minister for Education and Science, and the Taoiseach Brian Cowen to commit to resourcing the improvement of Irish oral skills.
Speaking today Senator Doherty said, "As the seanfhocail goes, "beatha teanga í a labhairt" – the life of the language is in its speaking.
"In 1960 the Leaving Certificate Oral exam for Gaeilge was introduced. At that time it carried only one sixth of the marks. Today’s students can receive up to 25% for their béalscrúdú. This is good progress.
"Two years ago I welcomed circular 0042/2007 which plans for 40% of the marks in the 2012 Leaving Certificate and 2010 Junior Certificate to be awarded for the béalscrúdú. I welcomed the establishment of the Second Level Support Services Gaeilge team.
"However, Minister Batt O'Keefe now needs to give schools, students and teachers some clear information; What will the 2010 Junior Certificate and 2012 Leaving Certificate exams look like? What questions will be removed and what new ones will be added to the paper? How will the listening comprehension be reduced? I ask these questions so that teachers and students are made aware before the 2009/2010 school year what exam they must work towards.
"The Minister needs to publish immediately the sample exam papers. He must advise teachers as to how the 40% oral will be designed and assessed. The Minister must also give a strong commitment to broaden the support services to múinteoirí Gaeilge into the future.
"I am calling on the Minister to recognise the importance of the spoken language in schools and to ensure that teachers are sufficiently resourced and equipped to improve the oral Irish skills of students." ENDS