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Ciorcaid sofháiscthe – ceardlann idirghníomhach

February 28, 2012

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Protest against the changes to the pupil teacher ratio in Gaelscoileanna

February 28, 2012

A statement from parents who have set up an online petition:

We, the parents, students, teachers, family and friends of Gaelscoileanna are against the changes the government are making to the Pupil teacher ratio in our schools. This is disastrous for Irish-medium schools, particularly those with between three and eight teachers. Up to 31 schools will lose one teacher if this recommendation is put into practice. Class sizes will increase as will the amount of mixed class groups with higher class numbers. It will result in a complete dilution of the effectiveness of the immersion experience for the pupil. Please help us by signing our petition and encouraging your family and friends to do so also!


Cuts will shut 19 Irish-language bodies

February 28, 2012

The infrastructure needed by Irish speakers is about to be destroyed.

Foras na Gaeilge is proposing to abolish annual core funding for Irish-language organisations. They intend to invite applications for three-year schemes in a limited range of activities.

Under Foras na Gaeilge’s proposal, 19 longstanding Irish-language organisations will cease to exist, their services will be no more and staff will have to be let go.

Foras na Gaeilge have not carried out any review of the effectiveness, or the efficiency, of the Irish-language organisations, and their proposal is at odds with international language-planning principles. We believe that the Foras na Gaeilge ‘new funding model’ is deeply flawed, and will prove detrimental to the development of Irish across the country.

We call for a permanent funding structure, based on strategic planning and long-term goals, for the Irish-language voluntary sector.

Professor Colin Williams, Cardiff University, Wales
Professor Muiris Ó Laoire, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand
Professor Dónall Ó Baoill, Queens University Belfast
Dr Wilson McLeod, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
Dr Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, NUI, Galway
Dr Pádraig Ó Duibhir, St Patrick’s College
Laoise Ní Thuairisg, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, NUI, Galway
Kevin De Barra, Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, D2


Move threatens ‘to kill off Irish language organisations’

February 28, 2012

Irish language experts have warned that changes to how organisations promoting it are funded threaten to put them out of existence and to put staff out of jobs.

A new funding model proposed by Foras na Gaeilge would see money given out for a range of schemes to promote the Irish language. It would replace the current grant system under which €7m of its €18m budget last year was given directly to 19 voluntary sector Irish language organisations. A 2010 review showed half the €8m given to the organisations in 2008 went on salaries and Foras na Gaeilge says the proportion allocated to pay reached 59% last year.

Foras na Gaeilge is the all-island body responsible for promotion of the language and is supported through the North-South Ministerial Council.

But, as a public consultation process on the proposals gets underway, a group of academics has said Foras na Gaeilge has not carried out any review of the effectiveness or efficiency of the groups and the plan goes against the principles of international language planning.

“We believe that the Foras na Gaeilge new funding model is deeply flawed, and will prove detrimental to the development of Irish across the country,” they said.

In a letter published in today’s Irish Examiner, the group, which includes leading academics from Belfast, Dublin, Galway, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales, said the 19 Irish language organisations will cease to exist, their services will be no more and staff will have to be let go. They are supported by a group which represents most of the organisations in the voluntary sector, which has also started an online petition.

A spokesperson for Foras na Gaeilge said while there may be some inevitable job losses, it was no different to other publicly funded sectors.

“Foras na Gaeilge does have an evaluation process for how its money is spent,” she said.

“The new schemes will be open to all of the 19 core-funded organisations to apply and will be funded over three years,” she said.

The headings under which schemes will be funded include education, arts, youth, pre-school and community supports, with funding to be provided on a three-year basis.

The public consultation will include a series of meetings next month, beginning in Tralee on Mar 5 and continuing in Belfast, Galway and Dublin until Mar 14. Details of the proposed funding arrangements can be found online at www.gaeilge.ie/samhail


Rethink on teaching foreign languages needed

February 28, 2012

I don’t think the Government should resurrect Enda Kenny’s proposal to downgrade Irish at senior level (Matt Cooper, Feb 24), but it should revisit the counterproductive and asinine decision to scrap continental languages in national schools.

It was heartbreaking to watch the recent news item on RTÉ showing an enthusiastic Italian teacher with her pupils, who were obviously greatly enjoying learning the Italian language and culture — and knowing their course was going to be axed very soon.

As one who was lucky enough to be reared bilingually — in English and French — I can testify to the enormous advantage of learning different languages at a young age. Grammar was taught, but it took a back seat, which meant that it made more sense and was far less boring than grammar taught in the traditional way.

This combination enabled me to learn other languages, including Irish, relatively quickly later in life. I believe children who attend Gaelscoileanna also tend to be more proficient in other languages.

There is no reason why Irish people cannot become proficient in several languages. This would not only be an immense advantage in the hard and competitive economic world — so the initial outlay would soon be recouped — but enable people to fully enjoy other countries’ cultures.

Judy Peddle
Love Lane
Co Cork


Scrios iomlán á bhagairt ar earnáil dheonach na Gaeilge

February 28, 2012

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Mórshiúl i nGaoth Dobhair

February 28, 2012

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Cruinnithe Réigiúnacha Poiblí

February 28, 2012

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Take away the school, kill the local community

February 27, 2012

Education cutbacks are a death sentence for rural villages, Jerome Reilly finds in Trumera, Co Laois

For Liam O’Neill there can be no surrender. He believes the battle to save the country’s primary schools and their teachers is part of a larger conflict — a fight for the survival of rural Ireland.

The school principal at Scoil Naisiunta Thromaire, a small Irish-speaking national school in Trumera in rural Co Laois just a few miles outside Mountrath, is also the incoming GAA president.

He believes the education cutbacks contained in the Budget austerity plan, which will increase the number of pupils needed for the retention of teachers, is tantamount to a death sentence for many small parish communities.

And, despite last week’s slight softening of the planned cuts by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn following howls of protest in every constituency, Mr O’Neill is convinced that it is those who live in the country who are paying the heaviest price since the downturn hit. The fear now is that, over the next three years, schools will be under pressure to keep their teachers each September.

Minister Quinn has come under immense pressure from rural members of his own party, including a number of senators, and Fianna Fail Education spokesman Brendan Smith said the minister was trying to give the impression that he had rowed back on cuts at small schools when he had not.

“Essentially, the Government has announced that small schools facing cuts can appeal these cuts if they can prove their pupil number will rise significantly over the coming years. This is nothing more than an attempt to take the heat out of the anger about this unpopular Budget measure,” he said.

For Liam O’Neill the question is not about economics. “Small communities like ours are anchored by their national schools. Take away the school from a place like Trumera and the community no longer exists. The GAA club would inevitably fold as well,” he said.

His roots in the school run deep. His father was also headmaster, and his mother’s aunt was school mistress before that. His family have given the school more than 100 years of service. He looks at what happened to the nearby hamlet of Kilbricken, which was once a hive of activity.

Kilbricken station, on the Dublin to Cork line, opened in 1848 but closed for goods traffic in 1975, and finally closed altogether in 1976. The Kilbricken Inn, which also served as a shop and post office, is now shuttered and the national school, a fine building with old-fashioned stone outhouses, is deserted and derelict.

The words of Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village come to Mr O’Neill — a poem he has taught to a few generations of youngsters in Trumera.

But times are altered; trade’s unfeeling train

Usurp the land and dispossess the swain.

“The numbers in any national school will fluctuate. The fact of the matter is this community suffered a hit in the Seventies. There were three national schools in the parish but two of them are now closed,” he said.

“We now look out across the green fields and see the traffic of the country passing us on the N7. We have the noise pollution from that. We know it represents progress of a sort, but has life improved for this community with the closing of Clonard school, Kilbricken school, the post office, the pub and the train station?”

Learning support teacher Laura Martin and her colleague Fiona Boyle take the youngsters through their lessons. At playtime the children converge in the school playground with their hurls and helmets — a beacon of life during the day, when most parents work away from the parish. Only two families in the 2012 roll call at the school are full-time farmers.

Labour Senator John Whelan has led the charge against the cutbacks in rural national schools. “My serious concern is that this was viewed as purely a teacher numbers issue by Minister Quinn and his officials. It has to be viewed in a broader context,” he said.

“As originally envisaged, it would have had a devastating impact on the sustainability of life in rural ireland. Schools are integral to the viability of communities, especially in the context of increased emigration, increased unemployment and the loss of Garda stations, post offices and a raft of other community hubs. It can’t be all about book balancing. We have to look at the social consequences. If we lose schools in September this year, the following year or the year after, it will lead to rural depopulation and rural dereliction. We won’t just have ghost estates, we will have ghost villages.”

Despite the apparent U-turn on the issue, it now looks as though some parts of the country will still be devastated, especially in the West.

In Galway East — a constituency that hasn’t returned a senior minister in living memory — eight schools are affected. Roscommon-South Leitrim also has eight schools facing teacher cutbacks; Longford-Westmeath has six schools under threat; and Donegal South West, five.

Labour Senator John Kelly from Roscommon told the Sunday Independent he was deeply concerned that from a per head of population perspective, “Roscommon seems to have got the greatest hit, with eight schools under threat of losing a teacher.”

He added: “I am not happy about that. I believe that by purely assessing the savings involved we forget the social and economic benefits small schools are to rural areas. I am years campaigning for fair play for rural Ireland and I will continue to push the Minister for Education to give a degree of leniency to schools that may lose a teacher over one or two pupils.”

Senator James Heffernan is also unconvinced that the threat to rural schools has receded. “Although the minister has said that there is an effective appeal procedure in place, I believe that the changes this year are the thin end of the wedge. As a former teacher, it is my view that the changes next year and the year after will have the potential to be devastating for rural life in Ireland. Should schools lose teachers and be forced to close down, it would be the last straw for life in rural Ireland,” the senator said.

“In Co Limerick there are around 60 schools with four or fewer teachers. These schools are the heart of their communities. If they were to be lost, it would be a major societal blow for those communities and parishes and indeed to the future of organisations like the GAA which is organised on parish lines.”

Meanwhile, Enda Kenny’s political heartland of Mayo which is the third largest county, but only 15th in terms of population, has just four schools affected.


Sicíní Scoil Aonghusa

February 27, 2012

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

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