Choosing Irish-Medium Education

The Irish-language Aitheantas campaign is urging parents to consider the language ethos of the future schools as part of the survey recently launched by the Department of Educations and Skills (DES).

Parents in 38 areas around the country are being asked what type of schools do they want in their areas into the future, and Aitheantas wants to ensure that parents are adequately informed of the added benefits children can gain from a bilingual education in an Irish-medium school.

According to Feargal Ó Cuilinn of Comhluadar: "Irish-medium schools provide an excellent education to their students, but Gaelscoileanna only account for approximately 5% of primary schools in Ireland, meaning the option of Irish-medium education is not open to every parent who looks for it.

"Along with ensuring your child gains fluency in two languages, international research has shown that children perform better academically, develop increased self-esteem, and have a greater sense of their identity and culture through the Gaelscoil model; we want to ensure every parent has the chance to choose this Gaelscoil model for their own children."

Despite the fact that there are over 3000 primary schools in the country, only 147 are Irish-medium schools, and Aitheantas wants to ensure parents are aware of the choice of language they can make when deciding on a more pluralistic range of schools in their local area.

Irish-medium education can provide a truly multicultural and varied choice to parents as both the Gaelscoileanna (primary level schools) and the Gaelcholáistí (second level schools) are available with a multi-denominational, an interdenominational or a Catholic ethos, according to parents' wishes.

Ó Cuilinn continues: "This information on Irish-medium education must be provided to parents if they are to make an educated choice on the type of school they want for their children. With the focus on the religious ethos of schools during the pilot phase of the surveys, parents weren't given an equal amount of information on Gaelscoileanna nor on Gaelcholáistí.

"It is important that Irish-medium education is also covered and presented to parents if they are to make a truly informed decision when completing the survey. If all parents see, hear and read about are patrons who provide English-medium schools, then they will naturally choose this type of school, to the detriment of the vision of a pluralist range of schools envisaged by the DES in carrying out this survey."

Aitheantas was established in 2010 by Irish-language organisations - including Comhluadar, Conradh na Gaeilge and Glór na nGael - to support the national demand for all-Irish education.

MORE INFORMATION:

Feargal Ó Cuilinn,
Director, Comhluadar
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+353 (0)1 4789191 / +353 (0)87 2908391

Síne Nic an Ailí,
Development Executive, Conradh na Gaeilge
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+353 (0)1 4757401 / +353 (0)87 65446673

EDITOR'S NOTE:

Aitheantas means recognition in Irish and the campaign was established in 2010 by national Irish-language organisations - including Comhluadar, Conradh na Gaeilge and Glór na nGael - to support the parents of Gaelscoil Ráth Tó in Ratoath, Co. Meath when they were looking for recognition for the school; and to address the national demand for all-Irish education by urging the Department of Education and Skills to include the provision of Irish-medium education in the criteria used when selecting areas for new schools. www.aitheantas.com

Comhluadar was founded in 1993 to support parents who want to speak Irish with their children. Comhluadar works on an all-island basis as the primary organisation promoting the transmission of the Irish language from generation to generation and are a united voice in supporting the rights of families to public services in Irish. Parents have the opportunity to meet other people in their area who are rearing families through Irish through Comhluadar, and parents and children are invited to a wide range of sociable and educational events organised by Comhluadar every month. www.comhluadar.ie

Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish-speaking community working to promote the language. There are over 200 branches of Conradh na Gaeilge and since its foundation in 1893, members of the Conradh have been actively promoting Irish in every aspect of life in Ireland and especially its use in their own areas. Conraitheoirí are at the forefront of campaigns to secure and strengthen the rights of the Irish language community. It is also possible to register as an individual member of the Conradh. Conradh na Gaeilge offers a range of courses for language learners in Galway, Dublin and various other centres around the country throughout the year as well. www.cnag.ie/courses

Glór na nGael has a vision to develop people's ability and awareness of the language, so as they will be able to use it in every area of life, through a range of competitions between communities with partners local groups across the country in the promotion of the Irish language. Every year Glór na nGael award more than €150,000 worth of prizes to committees from around the country through the concept of a public competition, and Glór na nGael's evaluation process is the equivalent of a language-planning framework, the only language-planning system operating in Ireland. www.glornangael.ie

Associated Organisations of Conradh na Gaeilge