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Review of Irish Medium Education should be ‘Bold and Brave’ - Ruane

30 July, 2007

Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has told the Project Board set up to review Irish-medium education to be bold and brave in bringing forward their proposals.

The Project Board was set up by the Department of Education to review the provision of education through the Irish language. Speaking to the Board, the Minister said:

"We are at the start of a new confident era in our political relationships. This can have very positive impacts on virtually every aspect of our daily lives as fresh opportunities to change old ways emerge.

"We are also building new relationships through the North South Ministerial Council and the British Irish Council. We must learn from those nations how they have worked and legislated to protect and nurture their native languages and also their cultures.

"Education is going through a period of major change, from the Review of Public Administration, through changes in the curriculum and the review of special education needs. The time is now right to review how we deliver education to children who have chosen to learn through the medium of Irish. There is great value in making a second language available to children at an early age and I plan to introduce more languages in primary schools.

"The demand for Irish medium education is growing, even though the overall number of children in our schools is falling. Old education policies that applied to Irish medium a few years ago may no longer be relevant and we must develop new ideas and new initiatives to support the growing demand for Irish.

"The Irish medium sector has always embraced diversity, and we must ensure all sections of our community realise that they also have ownership of the Irish language and culture. It belongs equally to every citizen on every part of the island.

"Through our new political relationships we are building a future for all in our community based on equality. So, we must ensure the Irish medium sector is treated fairly through the development of policies that recognise the growing demand to support an important asset in our community."

The Minister concluded:

"The report that your Project Board delivers has the potential to make a real difference. You must be bold and brave in your thinking and innovative in the proposals you bring forward for consideration. I look forward to reading your conclusions." ENDS

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