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Education Department decision to boycott discussion on Gaelscoileanna badly judged - Doherty

7 December, 2007


Education Department decision to boycott discussion on Gaelscoileanna badly judged - Doherty

 

For immediate release: December 6th 2007

 

Speaking yesterday during the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Science Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty described the Education Departments decision to boycott the committee meeting as a missed opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue.

 

“It is extremely disappointing that Department of Education officials decided against attending yesterday’s committee meeting.

 

“The Departments circular to Gaelscoileanna  in July directing all Irish medium schools that they must teach 2.5 hours of English every week no later than the start of the second term of Junior infant classes, examples an inexplicable ignorance of the values of the immersion method of teaching.

 

“The success of early immersion, where the teaching of English is postponed for up to two years, until the children have enough Irish to do their school work and interact with others, has been proved both nationally and internationally. Students go on to perform extremely well academically and attain a high standard in Irish and English.

 

“Both the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG) have also advised in favour of total immersion.

 

“This move by the Department of Education is a devastating blow to Gaelscoileanna. Not attending yesterday’s committee meeting only adds fuel to the fire. It would have offered an opportunity for the department to engage in a cross party discussion where the serious concerns all stakeholders have for the future of the language could have been outlined to the department. This was a missed opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue.

 

“The six countyMinister for Education has not questioned the total immersion method of teaching Irish, despite Irish not being an official language in the north. That Minister Hanifan, who was once an Irish teacher herself, is beyond comprehension.

 

“In addition, under the Good Friday Agreement commitments both governments have an obligation to harmonise policies on an all-Ireland basis.

 

“I am calling on Education Minister Mary Hanifan to immediately withdraw the circular and throw her Departments full support behind the immersion method of teaching our national language.” CRÍOCH

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