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Ceud Mìle Fàilte – A Hundred Thousand Welcomes – To all Members of Parliament

05/2013

On the week commencing 13 May, the traditional Gaelic greeting ‘Ceud Mìle Fàilte` will be extended to all Members of the Scottish Parliament. 

All Members will be invited to view an exhibition in the Parliament and to meet representatives from Bòrd na Gàidhlig and MG ALBA to hear about recent positive developments for the language. These are the two Gaelic bodies established by Acts of Parliament to support the revitalization of Gaelic.

The exhibition is being staged to thank the parliamentarians for the Cross-Party support shown to Gaelic since devolution, and, in return, to highlight the successful growth of Gaelic-medium education in diverse locations in Scotland and to demonstrate the success of BBC ALBA in attracting growing and appreciative audiences.

Gaelic has been taught as a language in schools in Scotland for a long time, but its consistent use as a medium of learning and teaching is a relatively recent phenomenon.  The cognitive, educational and cultural benefits of bilingualism, and multilingualism, are being increasingly recognised, as is Gaelic-medium education as a route to securing these benefits, with numbers of pupils in all but four Local Authority areas in Scotland growing from less than twenty in 1985 to over 3,500 in 2013.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig Ceannard (CEO) said: “The 2001 Census statistics demonstrated that the policy of support for Gaelic-medium education was helping to slow the rate of decline in the numbers of Gaelic speakers evidenced in the previous Census. Since then The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 has established Bòrd na Gàidhlig with a remit to develop a National Gaelic Language Plan to guide organisations and individuals in Scotland in regard to priorities for action in support of Gaelic.  The current National Gaelic Language Plan places strong focus on the role that Gaelic-medium education has to play - alongside the use of Gaelic in the home and the community - in future years to increase the numbers of young Gaelic speakers in Scotland to ensure the language has a sustainable and vibrant future.”

MG ALBA’S Chief Executive, Donald Campbell added: “The Gaelic media play a very important role in allowing people to access Gaelic language and culture, and in raising the profile of the language. This role has been significantly enhanced since the establishment in 2008 of the Gaelic TV channel BBC ALBA which has quickly grown loyal and appreciative audiences across the wider Scottish community as well as amongst Gaelic speakers. Related resources such as LearnGaelic.net also offer a one-stop shop for anyone and everyone interested in learning Scottish Gaelic.”

The interest in Gaelic which is evidenced by audience figures and demand for Gaelic learning is underpinned by a general recognition that it is important for Scotland to retain its Gaelic identity.  This view is evidenced by the 81% positive response in a survey published by the Scottish Government last year confirming Gaelic as an important factor in how Scotland is defined and viewed in the modern world. This should not be surprising in a country whose very name derives from the early Gaelic-speaking people designated by the Romans as the Scotti.  More recent information from the Gaelic module of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2012, a briefing on which will be published by the research network Soillse next week, confirms positive attitudes to Gaelic-medium education and the impact of BBC ALBA.

Against this background, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and MG ALBA feel it appropriate to demonstrate some of the practical outcomes that have emerged from supportive attitudes and policy within the Parliament, which mirror wider public support. The exhibition in the week commencing 13 May will fulfil this role and will form a backdrop for the launch of the second version of the Parliament’s own Gaelic Language Plan.

The representatives of Bòrd na Gàidhlig and MG ALBA are looking forward to say in person to each and every MSP in the Parliament in the course of the week, Ceud Mìle Taing (A Hundred Thousand Thanks) for their on-going support to help secure a sustainable future for Gaelic in Scotland.