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Economic Benefit of Bilingual Education Hailed at GAELSCOILEANNA Conference

November 13, 2008


Thursday, November 13th, 2008 – 1400 Hrs



Keynote address highlights importance of language education


The benefits of a strong bilingual approach to education should be given greater prominence within the Irish education system.  This is the central theme of the keynote address which will be delivered to the annual Education Conference and AGM of Gaelscoileanna Teoranta in Bettystown, Co Meath tomorrow morning (Friday, November 14th) by Colin Baker, Professor of Education and Pro Vice Chancellor of Bangor University.


"There is evidence compiled for the World Bank that bilingual education is economically advantageous due to its creation of higher achievement, a more skilled workforce and less unemployment," said Professor Baker.  "Children who learn through bilingual education,  such as is provided to a high level through Irish medium education, have a better understanding of different cultures, show a greater propensity for learning additional languages later on, and benefit from the greater demand for multiple language skills in an increasingly global economy."


"There are issues involving the political and financial support which bilingual education demands but in the long term it is likely to provide greater cost efficiency, for example as achievement levels are raised.  This should be of significant interest within Ireland especially given the report earlier this week that the country finished last in a European survey of OECD nations in terms of the ability of its citizens to hold a conversation in another language."


"Professor Baker is one of the world’s leading authorities on bilingual education", said Uachtarán Gaelscoileanna Teoranta, Micheál Ó Broin.  "He will outline how other countries are approaching bilingual education issues in 2008 and how the practice of early total immersion is undisputed as very successful.  His experience will doubtless further strengthen our resolve to fight for the right to continue early total immersion as an option in our schools."


 The conference, the theme of which is ‘Fostering an Irish Language Community’, will also include presentations on:


  • cultivating an Irish speaking community outside of the classroom


  • the importance of reaching out to different cultures and presenting bilingual education as a benchmark for inter-culturalism


  • the approach to special needs teaching at both primary and post-primary levels


Gaelscoileanna Teoranta will also publish its Strategic Plan for the next three years, part of a programme which anticipates the establishment of more than 20 new primary and 10 new secondary Irish medium schools over the next five years.


The conference will be officially opened by Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keefe.


GAELSCOILEANNA TEORANTA is the co-ordinating body for schools that teach through Irish.  It helps parents and local groups set up new schools and supports the established Irish-medium schools.




For further information or to arrange an interview with Professor Colin Baker or Micheál Ó Broin, please contact


Rob Hartnett

Director, Hartnett McClure PR on (086) 3851955, rob@hmpr.ie