Conradh na Gaeilge severely criticised the Department of Education and Science for further aggravating the social divide in second level education by cutting the teaching grant given to Irish language summer colleges in the recent budget, and extended its support to the summer colleges that will certainly suffer as a result of this.
Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa, President of Conradh na Gaeilge said: "The time students spend in Irish colleges throughout the Gaeltacht during the summer is without a doubt the best opportunity they have to improve their Irish-language skills, especially their spoken Irish, but those in charge of the colleges depend on the capital grant as a source of income to cover some of the running costs so that they can offer the courses at a reasonable price to parents.
"The Conradh believes this cutback will only serve to aggravate the social divide in second level education. More marks are going for the Irish oral in state examinations from 2012 onwards, meaning students whose parents have the means to pay for a summer course in the Gaeltacht will have the advantage over students whose parents can't afford it, and the Department cutback will only exacerbate this inequality."
Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary for the Conradh said: "Conradh na Gaeilge believes that the Irish language belongs to all Irish citizens, regardless of class, but this unfortunate cutback means there will be an added cost to course fees in future and as a result, that it will be even harder for economically disadvantaged parents to send their children to the Gaeltacht.
"Not only that but the course prices have already been set down for next year's summer courses, the brochures have been printed and the applications are coming in, under the assumption that the grant would be paid as normal by the Department of Education, and the Conradh thinks it is a disgrace that, with this cutback, both the Department and the Government have pulled the rug out from under the summer college staff that work so hard to promote the Irish language year in, year out."
It is obvious to Conradh na Gaeilge that this cutback, which jeopardises the viability and very existence of the summer colleges, makes a laughing stock of both the Government's commitment to promote the Irish language and the Department of Education's promise to emphasis the spoken language at second level.
Approximately 25,000 teenagers attend summer college in the Gaeltacht in Ireland every year, but with the discontinuation of the teaching grant, it will be extremely difficult to run economically successful courses and it would be a devastating setback to the Gaeltacht economy if the summer courses ceased because of this.
Conradh na Gaeilge is demanding that the devastating decision to cut the summer colleges' capital grant is reversed immediately before irreparable damage is done to successful Irish-language courses throughout the Gaeltacht.
Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa
President, Conradh na Gaeilge.
087 2901154 / 01 4757401
Julian de Spáinn
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge.
01 4757401 / 086 8142757