RUANE – VIBRANT, DYNAMIC AND GROWING IRISH-MEDIUM SECTOR
Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, announced the outcome of the Review of Irish Medium Education today at the annual Comhairle Na Gaelscolaíochta (CnaG) Conference in Belfast.
Speaking after the event the Minister said: “Irish-medium education is thriving, more and more parents are choosing to educate their children through the medium of Irish. There are now over 3,300 pupils being educated in Irish medium schools compared to less than 400 in 1991. Gaelscoileanna are producing confident, capable, articulate, dynamic and bi-lingual students every year.
“Last year I launched the Consultation on the Report on the Review into Irish Medium Education. I would like to thank everybody who took the time to contribute and make their voices heard. Your contributions have demonstrated commitment, passion and dedication to the education of children and the importance of the Irish language.
“Learning a second language can open doors for young people and help our young people to become creative, confident and articulate individuals, able to play their full part in society and achieve their full potential. “The world is becoming a smaller place because of improvements in communication and technology. As a result, there is an increase in the number of international opportunities open to young people with bi-lingual skills.”
The Minister continued: “The Review was asked to take stock of the best way to facilitate continued and sustainable growth for the next decade, ensuring the highest quality education outcomes for pupils. I believe that it has fulfilled this brief.
“Today I announced my broad acceptance of the Review’s recommendations as I believe that they offer a comprehensive, creative and strategic way forward for the sector and for the resurgence of the Irish language.
“There are however still challenges ahead. We must now work towards developing a comprehensive and coherent policy for Irish medium education so that we ensure that the sector continues to grow and flourish.”
The Report of the Review of Irish Medium Education recommends a range of actions to address a number of pressing issues within the Irish Medium sector, including:
Providing the necessary changes to facilitate the expansion of Irish-medium pre-school provision. Addressing deficiencies in the accommodation of existing Irish-medium schools. Meeting the pressing need for classroom resources appropriate to teaching through the medium of Irish. The provision of more teachers at both primary and post-primary level in the sector, and meeting the need for more subject specialists. Putting in place the building blocks to ensure quality and growth within the sector, not least through the introduction of mechanisms to allow federations between schools.
The Minister added: “I have ensured that there is provision within my Department’s budget to address some of the key aspects and challenges raised in the Review. I believe that with continued support and dedication these challenges can be overcome.
“I want to congratulate Comhairle Na Gaelscolaíochta Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta on all their hard work in promoting the Irish Language schools and I wish them every success in the future.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. The CnaG Conference was hosted at Coláiste Feirste, a grant-maintained Irish-medium, co-educational post-primary school situated in West Belfast which caters for pupils aged between 11 and 18. The school was established in 1991 in a former Presbyterian Church in the Broadway area of the Falls Road as an independent school and attained grant-aided status, as a maintained school, with effect from 1 September 1996. 2. Sir George Bain, in the Report of the Independent Strategic Review of Education (the Bain Report), December 2006, recommended that DE should develop a comprehensive and coherent policy for Irish-medium education. 3. The Review was initiated in 2007 and was asked to take stock of the best way to facilitate continued and sustainable growth for the next decade, ensuring the highest quality education outcomes for pupils, particularly in light of the revised curriculum. 4. Caitríona Ruane launched the Report of the Review, and consequent consultation on 11 October 2008.