Online campaign sees hundreds take part and thousands of interactions in a call for a #Gaeilge4All policy in our education system.
Today, Wednesday, 17 May 2023, saw hundreds of people posting pictures of themselves with red tape on their mouths as part of the #Gaeilge4All campaign to call on Minister for Education Norma Foley, Fianna Fáil and the Department of Education to introduce a comprehensive policy for the Irish language in the education system from early childhood to third level. Influencers, students, teachers, parents, education groups, Irish language organisations and members of the public took part in the action which spread across social media platforms.
Róisín Ní Chinnéide, spokesperson for the #Gaeilge4All campaign said:
"Today's protest aims to put pressure on the Minister and the Department of Education to implement #Gaeilge4All, i.e. to develop a comprehensive policy for the Irish language in the education system from early childhood to third level and to provide every pupil in the education system with a satisfactory Irish language learning experience. As a first step in this direction, we are calling on the Department of Education to put in place a dedicated expert working committee immediately, with members who understand and have experience with Irish in the education system, to develop this policy.”
Éadaoin Fitzmaurice, Digital Creator and founder of FIA Digital, commented:
“I have a huge love for the Irish language and the education system plays a key role in creating the next generation of speakers who will go on to love the language too. We need to do everything to ensure that the system helps students acquire the language, not turn them away from it. This cannot be done without major changes to the system — we need #Gaeilge4All anois!”
Alannah Ní Riada, a student in Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara, said:
“The Irish language in the education system makes me frustrated. There is no oral examination for the Junior Certificate. The amount of time for teaching Irish in primary schools is to be reduced by 30 minutes from 1st to 6th class. There are no satisfactory Irish language specifications for the junior certificate or the Leaving Certificate. I do not see that the Department has any vision or plan to solve these and other issues. Wouldn’t it be better to allow experts, who understand Irish in the education system, to develop the policy proposed by the #Gaeilge4All campaign?”
The #Gaeilge4All campaign is calling for the following actions from the Minister for Education, Norma Foley:
- That every pupil in our education system has a satisfactory Irish language learning experience
- That a Policy for Irish in the Education System from Early Childhood Education to Third Level is developed to ensure this experience for students
- That a dedicated expert working committee be set up immediately, with members who understand and have experience of the Irish language in the education system, to develop this policy
A policy for Irish in the Education System was promised in the Programme for Government and was part of Fianna Fáil’s commitments in the general election in 2020. It is now time to deliver on these commitments.
Online: #Gaeilge4All @gaeilge4all
There is strong public support for a policy for Irish in the education system from pre-school to third level according to a survey carried out by Kantar i 2022 and 2019:
The following are some of the issues with Irish in the education system that show that the system is broken.
- The specifications and syllabuses for junior and senior cycles are senseless, with over 90% of junior cycle teachers expressing their dissatisfaction with them.
- There is a risk that major problems will be created within the Leaving Certificate format by moving Irish to the end of the fifth year, despite the postponement of the decision for one year.
- There is a lack of options for parents seeking education in Gaelscoileanna and Gaelcholáistí, with only 7% of students able to avail of limited spaces.
- Exemptions are out of control with over 40,000 second level students exempted from Irish. There is no plan to support students with special needs to ensure that they can continue learning Irish rather than closing them out.
- In addition, the new primary school curriculum removed 30 minutes a week from the teaching of Irish from 1st class without regard to the impact that this will have on the quality of Irish in schools.