Monday 22 July 2019

Irish must remain a compulsory subject

Deborah Coleman - Straight Talking

It was reported this week that special educational needs are being increasingly used as grounds to secure exemptions from Irish classes in schools.

This is despite the fact that many students with additional needs are continuing to learn other languages including French and German.

While each individual assessment and application for such must be considered in isolation, it is disappointing to hear that some are calling for compulsory Irish to be scrapped on this basis.

While certain pupils may have their own reasons for opting out of Irish classes, it would be disappointing to have it pulled from the core curriculum for the majority of students. Every time that this debate arises, the anti-Irish sentiment is put about to bemoan the way Irish was taught back in the day, and to question the relevance of it in today's society. Of course it is relevant. How can the native language of any country be anything but, whether it is spoken by the majority or not?

Regardless of a person's feelings about how their Irish teacher approached lessons, and whether they think the language would be useful throughout their lives, I think we would be doing the young people of Ireland and future generations a massive disservice if the language was removed as a core subject.

It's all well and good to slag off the educational system or the teachers, but how do we propose to keep it alive if a fundamental education is not provided to pupils? I will never understand why there is such disdain and apathy expressed in relation to the Irish language.

Many other countries have a language which is only spoken in there country alone and yet there is respect and an understanding of it as an integral part of their heritage.

You don't have to be a hardcore republican or a history buff to be interested in it, and to appreciate the value of it. It doesn't have to be Irish OR a European language studied. Pupils are so lucky that they can pursue both, so why do some people view it as an either/or?

There is probably an argument for the irrelevance of many subjects taught in schools today but they are required for a decent all-round basic education before pursuing work or further studies. As the saying goes, 'Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam' and it is only when a language dies that people realise this.