Gaeltacht schools have made significant steps forward in improving the quality of Irish language education.
That’s the finding of an inspection report of 105 primary and 28 secondary schools taking part in the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme.
The report said that junior and senior infants pupils are being immersed in Irish to provide listening and speaking opportunities to students of different ability levels in Irish from an early age.
Later years are making more Irish language books available to encourage bilingual learning, and teaching addtitional subjects through Irish.
Where schools were already bilingual, the report found more support was being given to improve fluency.
Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh said teachers and parents deserved praise for the efforts they made to encourage their kids to embrace Irish.
“I want to praise the commitment and conscientious efforts of principals and teachers and the support and interest from parents.”
“I am very impressed by the high level of engagement of participating schools in the initial phase of the Scheme’s implementation.”
When it comes to secondary schools, the report highlighted that the greatest difficulty was in encouraging teenagers to use Irish in everyday conversation.
Minister McHugh said: “One of our objectives should be to get young people using the language and make it relevant to their lives.”
To help with this participating schools have been implementing measures such as Irish language clubs for lunch time, creating student committees to give them an input on how they feel the use of Irish could be promoted, and encouraging students to take part in Irish competitions with organisations like TG4
Across both primary and secondary level, schools have been supporting events that immerse students in their gaeltacht heritage.
The Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme was launched last year to ensure that high quality Irish Language education is available to gaeltacht students.
It aims to preserve and promote Irish as the main language of Gaeltacht communities.
This report is based on inspections of participating schools carried out between September and December of this year.
“We can be proud of the efforts made by Gaeltacht schools in supporting our national language and heritage. As it is said, ‘Beatha teanga í a labhairt’,” the Minister finished.