Friday 23 March 2018

Crisis in Irish extends to Gaeltacht

John Walshe and Katherine Donnelly

THE crisis facing Irish is revealed in new figures that show just 1,000 children attending primary schools in the Gaeltacht are native speakers of Irish.

And some 70pc of Gaeltacht primary schools now have three teachers or less.

The figures were compiled by the state agency COGG (An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta and Gaelscolaiochta) which promotes the educational needs of all Irish schools.

COGG chief executive Muireann Ni Mhorain said they showed the challenges facing the language especially in Gaeltacht primary schools where there are 9,500 pupils.

"Any discussion of amalgamation of small rural schools, which is being proposed for economic reasons, must bear in mind the language of instruction in schools," she told the Irish Independent.

Separate figures reveal a sharp drop in the standards of Irish among pupils in Gaeltacht and English medium schools.

The Government admitted last year there was limited oral ability among Junior Cert students in a third of post-primary schools.

The admission was contained in a 20-year Strategy for the Irish Language, the targets of which were greeted with scepticism. One goal was to treble the reported number of daily speakers outside the education system from 83,000 to a quarter of a million by 2030.

As it is, the demand for all Irish schools outside Gaeltacht areas is not being met.

There are 28,500 children in these Irish-medium primary schools at present, but no new ones have been sanctioned by the Department of Education since 2008, when four new schools opened.

Irish Independent

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