independent

Monday 20 August 2018

Priority based on Irish fluency makes sense

Opinion

Irish is constantly facing a battle and if it's not spoken and kept alive, then where will it be
in a generation?
Irish is constantly facing a battle and if it's not spoken and kept alive, then where will it be in a generation?

Deborah Coleman - Straight Talking

There has been a lot of discussion about the primary school divestment plan to include the removal of the so-called 'baptism barrier' but there has also been some discussion about the priority system in Gaelscoileanna and whether or not priority should be given to intending pupils with a certain level of fluency.

This is a trick one, as in many communities, families still apply to schools based on catchment area, and not really in the interest of religion or whether it is an Irish-speaking school or not.

For many parents raising their children through Irish, it is a priority for them to seek enrolment in a Gaelscoil, but for others location, family history and knowledge of the school might be more important.

However, for those who have put serious effort into speaking Irish in the home during pre-school days, surely they should be prioritised when it comes to school places.

There are so few school places available in all-Irish schools so it's not surprising that families who live through Irish and use Gaeilge as the language of the home, would want to ensure that they would secure a place.

While there are two official languages in this country, Irish is constantly facing a battle and if it not spoken and kept alive, then where will it be in a generation?

Gaelscoileanna are a wonderful way of sustaining the language outside of Gaeltacht areas, and offering children the opportunity to speak their own first language with peers and for it to be the language through which they are educated.

When it comes to families who are unable to use Gaeilge as the sole language at home, Gaelscoileanna are of course the only way for parents to ensure that their children become fluent and grow up with a firm ability to speak it.

If a family is passionate about ensuring that their children become fluent through the education system, then it would be difficult for them to accept that perhaps a pupil who speaks the language at home would be prioritised for a school place.

Anyone who supports the promotion of the Irish language would likely want to see a Gaelscoil place available to every child who wants one with no need for priority places and children being unable to attend where their parents wish. After all, the more people who support and speak Gaeilge, the better for the language.

Sligo Champion

News