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Céim ar Aghaidh, Céim ar Ais don Ghaeloideachas

05/02/10

(English version follows.)

Páistí bunscoileBhí cúis cheiliúrtha ag tuismitheoirí agus ag múinteoirí i scoileanna Gaeilge an tseachtain seo caite nuair a d’aistarraing Roinn Oideachais na Sé Chondae Fichead Ciorclán 0044/2007 faoi dheireadh.

Thug an ciorclán, tugtha isteach ag an roinn in 2007, thug sé faoi bhonn a bhaint ón phróiseas luath-thumoideachais atá in úsáid go rathúil ag Gaelscoileanna ar fud na tíre. Chuir oideoirí agus tuismitheoirí ina éadan ón tús, agus thóg dhá scoil cás cúirte in aghaidh na roinne le cur in éadan tabhairt isteach an chiorcláin.

Dúirt Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, Ard-Rúnaí Fhoras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge go bhfuil “ard mholadh ag dul do na scoileanna seo, na hiarratasóirí sa chás leis an bhForas Pátrúnachta, a chuir chun cinn cás an luath-thumoideachas agus a thábhacht i bhforbairt acadúil agus sóisialta an dalta.

“Creideann an Foras Pátrúnachta go láidir sa chóras luath-thumoideachas a chleachtar inár gcuid scoileanna feictear ó lá go lá na buntáistí atá leis ó thaobh sealbhú teanga agus buntáistí ginearálta oideachasúil.”

Tá maíte ag aire oideachais na Sé Chondae Fichead Batt O’Keeffe freisin go bhfuil sé ag smaoineamh faoi chúrsa tumoideachais ceithre seachtaine a thabhairt isteach do dhaltaí iar-bhunscoile, rud ar cuireadh fáilte fhairsing roimhe chomh maith.

Ach an rud a thugtar le lámh amháin is, féidir baint leis an lámh eile. Go gar i ndiaidh an fhógra ar an chiorclán, mhaígh O’Keeffe go tobann go raibh Ollscoil na hÉireann [OÉ] le díscaoileadh.

Rinneadh an cinneadh chun €1 milliún [£871,000] suarach a shábháil, agus is iomaí ceist gan freagra atá fágtha, ról na Gaeilge i gcomhcholáistí OÉ amach anseo san áireamh.

Tá an Ghaeilge ar na riachtanais mháithreánacha d’OÉ Gaillimh, OÉ Maigh Nuad, Coláiste Ollscoile Chorcaí agus Coláiste Ollscoile BÁC, agus tá cur chun cinn scoláireacht agus taighde ar an Ghaeilge agus ar an chultúr Ghaelach, chomh maith le stair agus oidhreacht chultúrtha, mar chuid de shainchúraimí OÉ. Is cosúil go ndéanfaidh na coláistí aonair cinneadh ar na ceisteanna seo as seo amach, agus seans go dtitfidh stádas na Gaeilge arís eile má tá tuilleadh bearta costchiorruithe tugtha isteach.

Dúirt Ard-Rúnaí Chonradh na Gaeilge Julian de Spáinn go bhfuiltear ag súil go gcoinneoidh na hollscoileanna an Ghaeilge mar riachtanas iontrála, agus gur chóir sampla Shasana a sheachaint, áit ar cuireadh deireadh le dualgas teanga sna scoileanna agus a chonaic titim mhillteanach i líon na ndaltaí ag staidéir teangacha ag an dara leibhéal.

Sna Sé Chondae an tseachtain seo caite, bhí imeacht ag aire oideachais i reachtas Stormont na Breataine, Caitríona Ruane, bhí imeacht aici san áras comhairle glóirithe ag ceiliúradh daichead bliain den Ghaeloideachas sa stáitín.

D’oscail Bunscoil Phobal Feirste a doirse mí Mheán Fómhair 1971 don chéad naonúr daltaí, agus faoi láthair déanann freastal ar beagnach 300 páiste gach bliain. Seans go ndéanfadh duine ciniciúil machnamh ar an fháth gur tharla an imeacht breis agus bliain go leith roimh chomóradh na daicheadú bliain, go háirithe leis na deacrachtaí reatha i gcaomhnú réimis Stormont.

Ina hóráid, dúirt Ruane: “Déanaim comhghairdeas le Bunscoil Phobal Feirste agus le pobal na Gaeltachta as a gcéad 40 bliain de bheith ag soláthar oideachais inár dteanga dhúchais. Rinne an scoil cheannródaíoch seo dul chun cinn le fás an Ghaeloideachais i bpobal dinimiciúil rathúil.”

Ar ndóigh, dá mbeifeá ag fiafraí faoi sheasamh Ruane féin ar a leithéid de scoileanna ceannródaíocha, seasfaidh a diúltú aitheantas a thabhairt do Choláiste Speirín sa Chorr Chríochach mar thaifead dá tiomantas do fhás an Ghaeloideachais. I mí Dheireadh Fómhair anuraidh, dhiúltaigh Ruane do mholadh forbartha do Ghaelscoil i Machaire Fíolta freisin, scoil a d’fhéadfadh bheith ina scoil fhriothálach do Choláiste Speirín dá dtabharfaí deis don choláiste.

Rith 2010Ar shiúl ó shaol pholaitíocht na bunaíochta, an tseachtain seo caite seoladh clár Rith 2010, an rith sealaíochta atá eagraithe mar chuid de Sheachtain na Gaeilge.

Is é Korrika na mBascach an múnla don Rith, agus tosóidh sé i mBéal Feirste ar 9ú Márta, ag teannadh go Cathair na Gaillimhe do 17ú Márta, ag clúdach 1600km, ag taisteal tríd na cúig chúigí, cúig chondae dhéag agus 150 baile ar an bhealach.

Cosúil lena macasamhail Bhascach, beidh Rith ina ceiliúradh ar an teanga agus cultúr dúchais agus maraon ina thiomsú airgid do ghluaiseacht na teanga. Tarlóidh sé achan dara bliain agus rachaidh gach pingin a bhaileofar isteach i gciste neamhspleách ar mhaithe le cur chun cinn tograí Gaeilge ar fud na tíre.

Duine ar bith atá ag iarraidh bheith páirteach i Rith 2010, nó atá ag iarraidh tacú leis an tionscadal, is féidir leo tuilleadh a eolais a fháil ag www.rith.ie.

 

One Step Forward, One Step Back for Irish Language Education

Parents and teachers in Irish-medium schools had cause to celebrate last week when the Twenty-Six County Department of Education and Science finally withdrew Circular 0044/2007.

The circular, introduced by the department in 2007, sought to undermine the early-immersion process that has been used successfully by Gaelscoileanna throughout the country. It was opposed from the beginning by educators and parents, and two schools took a court case against the department opposing the introduction of the circular.

Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, general secretary of Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge [the patronage body for Irish-medium schools], said: “We must recognise and thank these schools, who were the applicants with An Foras Pátrúnachta in the review, and who put forward the case for Early-Immersion Education and its importance to the academic and social development of the child.

“An Foras Pátrúnachta believes very strongly in the early-immersion system that is practised in our schools and, on a daily basis, we see its benefits in language acquisition and, indeed, overall educational performance.”

Twenty-Six County education minister Batt O’Keeffe has also announced that he is considering introducing a four-week immersion course for post-primary students, which has also been widely welcomed.

But what is given with one hand can also be taken away with the other. Shortly after the announcement on the circular, O’Keeffe suddenly announced that the National University of Ireland [NUI] was to be dissolved.

The decision was made in order to save a paltry €1 million [£871,000] a year, and has left a mountain of unanswered questions, not least of which is the future position of the Irish language in NUI’s constituent colleges.

NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, University College Cork and University College Dublin all include Irish as part of their matriculation requirements, and part of NUI’s remit also includes the promotion of scholarship and research into Irish language and culture, as well as history and cultural heritage. Decisions on these issues will likely now be made by individual colleges, with the chance that the position of the Irish language could suffer further if more cost-cutting measures are introduced.

Conradh na Gaeilge general secretary Julian de Spáinn said: “We would hope that the universities that were under NUI retain the Irish language as an entry requirement. It would make sense to avoid the example of our nearest neighbour, England, which removed language learning as an obligation in the schools and has seen the numbers of students taking languages at second level fall catastrophically.”

In the Six Counties last week, Caitríona Ruane, education minister in Britain’s Stormont administration, recently held an event in the glorified council building celebrating the 40th anniversary of Irish-medium education in the statelet.

Muintir Choláiste SpeirínBunscoil Phobal Feirste opened its doors in September 1971 to the first nine pupils, and currently caters for almost 300 children every year. A cynical person might wonder why the event was held more than a year and a half before the actual 40th anniversary, especially given the current difficulties in propping up the Stormont regime.

In her speech, Ruane said: “I warmly congratulate Bunscoil Phobal Feirste and the gaeltacht community on their first 40 years of providing education in what is our native language. This pioneering school has led the growth of Irish medium education in a thriving dynamic community.”

Of course, if one were looking for Ruane’s own position on such pioneering schools, her refusal to give recognition to Coláiste Speirín in Cookstown will stand as a record of her commitment to the growth of Irish-medium education. In October last year, Ruane also turned down the development proposal for a Gaelscoil in Magherafelt, which could have been another feeder school for Coláiste Speirín if the college had been given a chance.

Away from the world of establishment politics, last week also saw the launch of the programme for Rith 2010, the relay-run being organised as part of Seachtain na Gaeilge.

Rith is modelled on the Basque Korrika, and will begin in Belfast on March 9, making its way to Galway City for March 17, covering 1600km, travelling through all four provinces, 15 counties and 150 towns on its way.

Like its Basque counterpart, Rith will be a celebration of the native language and culture as well a fundraiser for the language movement. It will take place every two years and all money raised will go into an independent fund for the development of Irish language projects throughout the country.

Anyone looking to participate in Rith 2010 or who would like to support the initiative in some way can find out more at www.rith.ie.

 

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