Údarás na Gaeltachta welcomes publication of the Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017 – 2022 by the Department of Education and Skills and the measures contained within to improve and support the provision of high-quality education through Irish in the Gaeltacht.
An tÚdarás is encouraged that the policy has taken into consideration many of the issues raised during the public consultation process, which involved Gaeltacht communities and organisations operating the in the Gaeltacht.
The Policy recognises the roles that schools and early-years settings play in providing high-quality Irish medium education and in fostering Irish-language proficiency and usage in the Gaeltacht community. It clarifies the role of schools in supporting the Irish language as the community language in the Gaeltacht, and the Policy recognises the importance of education in preserving rural communities. For the first time, the Policy gives recognition to native Irish speakers and recognises that there is a need for a specific approach within Gaeltacht educational services to address the needs of native speakers. The Policy recognises the challenges facing Gaeltacht families raising their children through Irish. The Policy outlines measures for addressing the challenges which exist in relation to the supply of qualified teachers with a high proficiency in Irish to teach in Gaeltacht schools. The Policy will act as a support to the language planning process in the Gaeltacht and to the pioneering work being undertaken by lead-organisations in the Language Planning Areas.
The Policy provides clarification on the vital resources required for its implementation and Údarás welcomes in particular the recommendation that a Unit will be established within the Department of Education and Skills to support the implementation of the Policy.
The Policy also recognises the important work that is done by Gaeltacht schools, by Comhar Naíonraí na Gaeltachta Teo and Comhairle Um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COOGG). An tÚdarás looks forward to working in partnership with these organisations and with the other stakeholders in implementing the Policy.
Údarás na Gaeltachta would like to acknowledge the commitment given by the Taoiseach and the Government, the Minister of Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D. and his Department officials, the Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Seán Kyne T.D. and his Department officials towards the publishing of this Policy on Gaeltacht Education.