Gaelscoil groups take issue with report

TWO groups involved in the country’s growing number of gaelscoileanna have rejected the report on future primary school provision, claiming it blocks children’s chances of an all-Irish education.

Around 40,000 children attend 139 all-Irish primary schools, representing 6.5% of all 3,169 primary schools, in addition to the 106 Gaeltacht primary schools.

An Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge, which is patron to 58 non-Gaeltacht all-Irish schools, says the recommendation that parental surveys be used to identify the type of school to be built in areas of population growth will leave those seeking all-Irish education in the minority so the system is not likely to meet their needs.

In a letter published with the report of the Commission on School Accommodation, An Foras Pátrúnachta chief executive Caoimhín Ó hEaghra also says the organisation does not agree with a proposal to establish all-Irish units within some existing English-medium schools to cater for local demand.

“The majority of the population do not have any practical alternative to English-medium education for their children. This is not right. There should be a choice available to them for all-Irish education,” he wrote.

“An Foras cannot support this report because it effectively places an obstacle to the provision of all-Irish education to the children of the country.”

Gaelscoileanna, the voluntary organisation supporting the development of all-Irish schools, also had its concerns published with the report, saying it cannot support it. While it welcomed the positive approach of the Department of Education to date on all-Irish education, it said that all-Irish units have not worked in English -medium schools.

“Over the past 10 years, seven all-Irish units have closed at second level due to lack of support from the department. In addition, it is hard for all-Irish units to create an Irish language ethos since they are surrounded by English,” wrote Gaelscoileanna’s acting chief executive Nóra Ní Loingsigh.

She said there is a need for all-Irish primary schools to have an opportunity to establish in areas of growing population as well as in areas of stable population where there is demand for all-Irish education. “We believe that a change of patron or ethos will not take place in schools for a long time and that in the meantime, many children will lose out on the opportunity to be bilingual at a young age and all the advantages this entails,” Ms Ní Loingsigh wrote.


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