The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports & Media Catherine Martin T.D. and Jack Chambers T.D., Chief Whip of the Government and Minister of State for the Gaeltacht and Sport, announced today, Friday 2nd September, that allocations of up to €4.039m. in total over a period of 3 years have been approved under the Language Assistants Scheme.
The Department has been providing a financial fund for more than two decades now for the Language Assistants Scheme. Language enrichment and acquisition opportunities are provided in the schools involved in the scheme and it contributes to the efforts of families living in the Gaeltacht to promote the language in the home.
The organisations are Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne in the province of Munster and Muintearas in Donegal, Mayo, Meath and Co. Galway which administer the scheme on behalf of the Department.
This allocation includes the additional three-year funding worth up to €72,000 which was recently approved to enable extra teaching hours to be provided under the Scheme for Gaeltacht primary schools with an attendance of more than 100 pupils.
As a result of this additional fund, a language assistant will be provided for the benefit of a total of 134 Gaeltacht schools (105 primary schools, 28 post-primary schools and one special school) with 113 language assistants working under the scheme.
Minister Martin said:
"I am delighted that this three-year fund has been approved. The Language Assistants Scheme and the work carried out under it is an integral part of the support that my Department is providing on an ongoing basis for both the language planning process and the policy for Gaeltacht education. As a result of the significant three-year fund that has been approved, the work that is underway will continue under the umbrella of the scheme for the benefit of the Irish Language and the Gaeltacht accordingly.
Minister of State Chambers said:
“With the announcement of this fund, major steps have been taken to further support both the language planning process and the implementation of the policy for Gaeltacht education. There is no doubt that the Language Assistants Scheme plays a key role in the efforts being made by my Department and the Department of Education to further strengthen Irish as a community and family language in the Gaeltacht areas as part of the implementation of the 2018-2022 Action Plan for the Irish Language. Of course if the c.113 Language Assistants were not employed under the scheme, those efforts would not have been successful and I am delighted that I managed to increase the wages of the Assistants by 10% this year.
Through the Language Assistants’ Scheme and indeed the other schemes and projects administered by my Department under the Community and Language Supports Programme, practical assistance is being provided through the network of Gaeltacht primary and post-primary schools to further language acquisition and enrichment opportunities available to attendees of Gaeltacht schools.
This measure is in line with the commitment made under action 2.17 of the Action Plan 2018-2022 as well as the commitments made in relation to the scheme in the Policy for Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022.
Press and Information Office
An Roinn Turasóireachta, Cultúir, Ealaíon, Gaeltachta, Spóirt agus Meán
Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media
Tel: 087 6737338 / 087 7374427 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: Department of Tourism, Cutlure, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media
Note for the Editors
The Department has been funding the Language Assistants Scheme for more than twenty years since 1999 as a support measure for Irish in the education system in the Gaeltacht. The objective is that the Irish language will continue to thrive from generation to generation and be strengthened as a family and community language in the Gaeltacht in accordance with the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030.
In addition to the measure now announced, the following previous steps were taken to strengthen the Language Assistants Scheme as a result of the review carried out on the scheme in 2019 – Review of the Language Assistants Scheme:
- Additional teaching hours were allowed under the Scheme for Gaeltacht primary schools with an attendance of more than 100 pupils.
- The Role of the Language Assistant booklet was launched officially and will be a source of reference, information and support for language assistants, scheme administrators and Gaeltacht school management and teaching teams.
- Additional resources worth €1.02m were approved from the beginning of the 2018/19 school year to enable an additional 32 schools to benefit from the scheme - equivalent to all Gaeltacht schools participating in the Gaeltacht Schools Recognition Scheme. As a result of all this, 134 Gaeltacht schools are benefiting from all these changes compared to 104 schools in 2017/18 and 114 assistants are now employed under the scheme compared to 100 in 2018/19.
- A three-year allowance of up to €3,200,828 was approved from the start of the 2019/20 school year, and was used to enable Gaeltacht schools participating in the Gaeltacht Schools Recognition Scheme to have a language assistant for six weeks.