Concerns for Gaeltacht schools raised in Dáil
The Sinn Féin education spokesperson Seán Crowe has raised the issue of Gaeltacht schools and the roll-out of the 20 year strategy for the Irish language in the Dáil this week.
Deputy Crowe said that changes to pupil teacher ratios and staffing schedules will have a significant impact on Gaeltacht schools and will undermine the 20 year strategy.
Deputy Crowe also emphasised the vital role that the Gaeltacht and Gaelscoileanna have in developing and ensuring the long-term viability of the language.
Deputy Crowe said:
“The Minister for Education has the lead role in delivering the 20 year strategy for the Irish Language yet his budgetary measures seriously undermine plan.
“Up until now, Gaeltacht schools had a preferential pupil-teacher ratio in recognition of the challenges of teaching in Irish medium schools. This reflected the serious lack of teaching resources available to teachers.
“It is therefore very worrying that gaelscoileanna are being hit doubly hard with changes to the staffing schedules as well as the ending of the preferential pupil teacher ratio. This is likely to lead to the forced closure of many Irish language schools.
“Teachers who are proficient in the language play an essential role in helping to ensure the future viability of our native tongue as a vibrant, working, living language.
“I sought clarification on a number of points from Minister Quinn including an explanation as to why the funding for trainee teachers to attend Irish language courses in the Gaeltacht had been cut, as well as an update on how plans are progressing for the establishment of an Irish training college. Unfortunately the Minister didn't seem to have many answers in relation to these important matters.
“This simply is not good enough. The current approach of removing vital supports from Gaelscoileanna is undermining the strategy and should be stopped. We need a proactive approach that will safeguard, develop and nurture the Irish language.”