Growth in Irish language achieved but education challenges still remain – Deputy Jonathan O’Brien
Statistics released this week which show that the number of students outside the Gaeltacht being taught through the medium of Irish have trebled since 1990 reflect its growing popularity and has been achieved in spite of the government’s failure to invest properly in the language. But problems still remain with the standard of teaching of Irish and inadequate vocational training.
This is the view of Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Deputy Jonathan O’Brien, who also praised the dedication and commitment of teachers which he said were a “major factor in the growth of Irish across the State”.
He continued: “The number of students being taught through Irish has trebled since 1990 and is set to top 50,000 in the next five years. During that time, the number of Irish medium schools has grown from 79 to 217 and the popularity of Gaelic is reflected in the way Gaelscoileanna enrollments are oversubscribed.
“I also welcome the news that patron bodies for Irish language schools are hoping to take over some primary schools if they are vacated by the Catholic Church.
"However, we still have major problems with the teaching of Irish as is seen in the recent report from the Chief Inspector who said that the standard of Irish being taught in 1 out of 4 classes is not satisfactory. He also highlighted a lack of vocational and continuing training for teachers and inadequate preparation and resources in schools.
“In the months ahead, Education Minister Ruairí Quinn is to bring forward legislation on changing school enrolment policies and it is important any changes do not adversely impact Gaelscoileanna. In particular, careful consideration must be given to the way preferential treatment is given to families whose children are brought up through the language.
“The positive growth for the Irish language has been achieved in spite of the succession of cuts that have been imposed on the sector in recent years and the failure of successive governments to properly implement the 20 Year Strategy for the language.”