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Ruane and Hanafin Join Forces to Launch Second Annual ‘GLEO’ Schools Scheme

5 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Education Minister in the North of Ireland, Caitríona Ruane MLA and the Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin TD and today jointly launched Foras na Gaeilge's scheme, 'GLEO' at St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra. The primary aim of the scheme is to recognise best practice in the promotion of oral Irish in creative and innovative ways in English-medium primary and post-primary schools on the island of Ireland.

The scheme, which was first piloted by Foras na Gaeilge last year, aims to acknowledge and celebrate the efforts of English-medium schools to promote spoken Irish. The scheme, which was developed by Foras na Gaeilge, recognises the unique environment offered by schools for the promotion of usage of oral Irish from a young age.

GLEO rewards schools on the Island of Ireland, which are dedicated to the promotion of oral Irish both inside and outside the classroom. Nominations are assessed by an expert panel of judges and shortlisted schools will then be visited. The entry deadline for applications from schools is Friday, November 9th.

Caitríona Ruane said

"I applaud this initiative from Foras na Gaeilge and am sure it will encourage schools to offer Irish to children from the earliest age. In the north of Ireland we are seeing an increase in the number of people wishing to speak Irish. This is also showing itself in a growing demand from parents who want their children educated through the medium of Irish.

"This sector has grown from just a handful of children in the first Irish speaking school in Belfast in the 1970's to over three thousand children now following the curriculum through the medium of Irish. In addition we have many other children learning Irish in an English speaking school and this is an area we need to encourage and nurture.

"I welcome this renewed interest in our language and culture which benefits the whole community. Helping to develop Irish speaking communities is the way forward for society in the North."

Speaking about GLEO, Tomás Ó Ruairc, Deputy CEO and Director of Education Services explained 'Having worked extensively with schools throughout the Island, we in Foras na Gaeilge are acutely aware of the need to recognise efforts being made by schools to encourage the spoken language.

"Last year GLEO was introduced as a pilot scheme. We were delighted with the success of the scheme and were equally pleased with the feedback from all those concerned. Again, this year we want to highlight the best techniques and approaches being used so that they could be shared with other schools around the country. "

"Having sought and received extensive feedback from the educational sector over the course of last year's pilot scheme, Foras na Gaeilge announced details of the revised 'GLEO' scheme for 2007/ 2008."

Any English- medium primary or post primary school on the island of Ireland in which Irish is taught can apply under this scheme. Applications will be especially welcome from schools in disadvantaged areas who make substantial progress throughout the school year in the promotion of Irish. Successful schools will receive €3,000 (£2,000) which is to be divided as follows: €1,750 / £1,200 to the school for Irish-language resources, €1,250 / £800 to fund projects or events which promote the Irish language throughout the school.

About Foras na Gaeilge

Foras na Gaeilge, the body responsible for the promotion of the Irish language throughout the whole island of Ireland, was founded on the second day of December 1999. Foras na Gaeilge is a North/South Implementation body that was founded as a result of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. The role of Foras entails facilitating and encouraging the use of Irish in the public and private arena in the Republic of Ireland, and in Northern Ireland where there is appropriate demand. Its role also involves advising administrations, North and South, as well as public bodies and other groups in the private and voluntary sectors in all matters relating to the Irish language. Under this role, Foras na Gaeilge was also instructed to undertake supportive projects and grant-aiding bodies and groups throughout the island of Ireland.

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