Conradh na Gaeilge demands that Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin reverses the very unreasonable decision that she has made recently with regard to the teaching of English in Gaelscoileanna at junior infant level, i.e. that English has to be taught from the second school term onwards. Conradh na Gaeilge criticises this proposed change in policy, because it was decided on without taking into account the advice of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) who have been involved in a consultation process on this issue for the past few years and who recommended that further research be carried out on the subject. The NCCA has recommended four short-term solutions while this research is being carried out.
Dáithí Mac Cárthaigh, President of Conradh na Gaeilge said: "This decision surprises and astonishes me. It is not a case that the Minister has been ill-advised but it seems that the Minister is operating with little regard for her advisers.
There is a need for an Irish language immersion system for junior classes because of the omnipresence English has and because the majority of Gaelscoil children come from families where English is the family language. There is a need for immersion to even up this imbalance and to create and preserve Irish language practice among the pupils and in the school".
Conradh na Gaeilge also criticises Minister Hanifan for taking this decision while most educators are on holidays. The Minister can be sure that Conradh na Gaeilge and the Irish language community will campaign to have this decision reversed and to have the NCCA's recommendations implemented. This issue was discussed at Conradh na Gaeilge's Ard-Fheis in April and a motion was passed unanimously against any reduction in immersion education in the Gaelscoileanna of this state.
It can be clearly seen from research carried out in the last few years that bilingual children have a special advantage when learning other languages later on in their lives. Therefore, this policy shows a lack of confidence in the Gaelscoil sector and in the very high standard of education that Gaelscoileanna provide.
Dáithí Mac Cárthaigh
President, Conradh na Gaeilge.
01 4757401 / 087 2368364
Julian de Spáinn
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge.
01 4757401 / 086 8142757