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Other Questions - Irish Language

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 762 No. 1

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 8. D’fhiafraigh Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas maidir leis an tionchar a bheidh ag ciorruithe oideachais ar chumas an Rialtais a chuid riachtanas faoin Straitéis Fiche Bliain, ó thaobh oideachais sa Ghaeltacht agus oideachais trí mheán na Gaeilge de, a chomhlíonadh agus maidir leis an tionchar a bheidh ag ciorruithe oideachais ar an nGaeltacht. [12854/12]

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn A number of education related actions in the 20-year strategy are already underway, especially in regard to teacher education, reform of the curriculum at primary and post-primary level and the provision of teaching resources. The strategy recognises the importance of equipping teachers to teach through the medium of Irish. As part of the national literacy and numeracy strategy, I have asked the Teaching Council to consider the [82]requirements in Irish for entry to teacher education courses and to be cognisant of the 20-year strategy in addressing the preparation of teachers to teach Irish at all stages of the continuum.

I have also asked the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to revise the content of the primary curriculum and junior cycle for Irish. In addition, the NCCA has undertaken to review the syllabus for leaving certificate in light of the experience of the students completing the revised leaving certificate course in June 2012. The Department is also providing some €1.75 million to An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta in 2012 for the provision of resources to support the teaching of Irish in all schools. All of these actions will help to support Irish-medium education both within and outside the Gaeltacht.

Deputy Seán Crowe: Information on Sean Crowe Zoom on Sean Crowe The Department of Education and Skills is central to the implementation of the 20-year strategy. The Minister refers in his reply to teachers who are proficient in the language having an essential role in regard to the creation of the new generation of Irish language speakers in the future. Why, then, has the funding for trainee teachers to attend Irish language classes in Gaeltacht areas been cut?

How often does the strategy committee meet in this regard? An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta, COGG, has not been included in the top level committee. Is it an essential part of the implementation strategy? The establishment of an Irish language training college was one of the proposals. Is there any movement in that regard? Has the Minister plans to address the serious Irish language deficiencies in his own Department? Training used to be provided in Gaeleagras but only approximately 3% of the Department staff are proficient in the Irish language. Are there proposals in the Department to upskill members of staff as part of the essential pushing out of the strategy?

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I have taken note of Deputy Crowe’s supplementary questions. Some of the queries raised are not fully covered in the documents before me. I will write to the Deputy about these. Since we had to find savings somewhere we reduced the financial support for teachers taking support courses in the Gaeltacht. The arrangement now is that they make the contribution for the courses. I am speaking from memory and this is subject to confirmation. I will get a letter to Deputy Crowe outlining the details of the other questions. It will be on the official record.

Deputy Seán Crowe: Information on Sean Crowe Zoom on Sean Crowe Up to now, Gaeltacht schools had a preferential pupil-teacher ratio in recognition of the challenges of teaching through the medium of Irish. There was also a recognition of the lack of teaching resources available and the decline of the language. This is why the strategy was set up. We have cut back the preferential pupil-teacher ratios. On the one hand we are pushing forward a strategy but on the other hand we appear to be pulling the rug from under it. The Minister’s Department is taking the lead with the strategy and this is one of the concerns of the language activists.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I understand the Deputy’s concerns. However, within reason all sections of the education budget had to take some portion of the overall burden of budget adjustment. There was a favourable pupil-teacher ratio for gaelscoileanna compared with other schools. I have removed that favourable ratio. As Deputy Crowe is aware, this has in no way indicated a decline in the demand for participation in gaelscoileanna. As part of the allocation of patronage for new schools, gaelscoileanna and gaelcoláistí have been well looked after. There is a clear indication of trying to meet the demand within existing resources while, at the same time, making overall savings.

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