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Gaelscoileanna Teo. Anger at Ministers Statement on School Recognition

September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11th, 2008


Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe has been sharply criticised by GAELSCOILEANNA TEO., the organisation representing 140 Irish language primary schools, for comments he has made today concerning the recognition of future schools that choose to adopt the Irish language ethos.

"The comments attributed to the Minister fly in the face of parents constitutional right to education for their children, and of the state’s obligation to protect and nurture the Irish language," said Bláthnaid Ní Ghréacháin, Chief Executive of GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.

"He seems to dismiss parental choice as akin to wanting ‘a school at every crossroads’, which shows a surprising lack of regard for the community based nature of Irish society."

"The Department has recognised the need for value for money through the recent modular schools building programme.  We support this approach.  It needs however, to operate alongside an equal appreciation of the value of education and the Minister appears to have lost sight of this.""Gaelscoileanna and other patron based schools can seek initial recognition with 17 children and full recognition after three years so long as you have 51 pupils.  This recognises how schools grow as a part of their community.  The numbers are pitched at a level of sustainability and we would point out to the Minister that not a single Gaelscoil has ever closed due to falling numbers.

"Only this week the OECD has shown that state spending on education is among the lowest in Europe.  Despite this relative lack of state support our standards of education remain among the highest in the world.  Education at its best is borne of the community and supported through the willingness of parents to play a part in management, philosophy and, regrettably, funding."

"This support is nurtured through the patron system and it is scandalous that this most effective method of shaping our children’s futures should be questioned on flawed economic grounds in a poorly judged attempt to cover up the State’s record over decades of poor planning and lack of foresight. Furthermore it contradicts the Government’s own commitment to support and nurture Irish-medium education, as outlined in their visionary plan, 2028 for the Irish language, and places further constraints on the system and on voluntary groups in the community. "

"We hope this is an exercise in ‘kite flying’ which will be quickly corrected but will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister to clarify his comments anyway."


Further Information:

Bláthnaid Ní Ghréacháin                                  Rob Hartnett

Chief Executive – GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.     Director – Hartnett McClure PR

01 4773155 or 086 8050335                        01 6401821 or 086 3851955