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Gaelic education helps reverse decline of the Gaelic language

Bòrd na Gàidhlig has published its Annual Report for the 2013/14 financial year.   Once again it is the first Public Body audited by Audit Scotland to sign off its Annual Report and Accounts, bilingually.

As well as demonstrating a positive and productive year for the Bòrd, it also highlights the growth of Gaelic education in the early years, primary & secondary sectors.  Gaelic-medium education has seen a growth of 6.1% at primary school level with the number of children entering into primary one rising by 13% to 486 entrants. The number of pupils also doing Gaelic-medium education at secondary level rose by 7% totalling 1181.  Further growth was seen the early years sector with the number of parent and toddler groups and playgroups increasing from 80 to 93, thus furthering the potential of increasing the number of entrants to GME in the coming years.

Reflecting on the previous year, Bòrd na Gàidhlig Ceannard (CEO), John Angus MacKay said: “2013/2014 was another positive year for the Bòrd with continued growth in Gaelic education, at all levels.   The 2011 census results gave us very encouraging evidence that the number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland has almost stabilised since the census of 2001.  This is mainly due to the rise in Gaelic-medium education which has seen excellent growth since its inception in 1985. The trend shows that within the next ten years the long term decline of the language could be reversed.  

Bòrd na Gàidhlig is a small organisation with heavy responsibility. Our success in meeting challenges and grasping opportunities this year was based on a combination of dedication by our Bòrd and Staff, and the co-operation and diligence of the hundreds of organisations and individuals with which we work – ranging from Parliament and Government and Public Authorities, third sector and commercial organisations through to local communities.”

Bòrd na Gàidhlig Cathraiche (Chair), Iain Campbell said: “I was very pleased to record in this year’s Annual Report that Bòrd na Gàidhlig has had a very successful year, with further progress being made in bringing to fruition the priorities of the National Gaelic Language Plan.

I would like to thank the Scottish Government and all of our partners for their support with this important undertaking.

The Bòrd welcomes the new Gaelic schools which are to be opened in Portree and Fort William. We are also pleased that the number of pupils in Gaelic Medium Education is steadily increasing. Another indication of the success of GME is the growing number of Gaelic schools that are being established across Scotland. These schools create a foundation for our language, for it is today’s young children who will keep Gaelic alive and flourishing in the future.

We have a busy year ahead, but at Bòrd na Gàidhlig we are fully confident of still further progress in achieving a secure future for Gaelic in Scotland.”

Through the course of the year the Bòrd dealt with 349 applications for funding from different organisations throughout the length and breadth of Scotland.  72% however of the funding received by the Bòrd from the Scottish Government was distributed to others.

Minister for Scotland’s Languages Dr Alasdair Allan said: “Parents across the country have been clear that they recognise the benefits of a bilingual education for their children and the rolls for GME schools and units continue to grow. This support is one of the key reasons that the 2011 census showed that the number of Gaelic speakers under 20 had grown in the last decade and the historic decline in the number of speakers has slowed dramatically.

“These figures show that targeted investment is not only helping children excel at school; develop in a bilingual environment and understand Gaelic culture better, but that we are also encouraging Gaelic as a vibrant part of many of Scotland’s communities.

“We are currently consulting on the provision of GME across Scotland and will look at the successes so far and how we can continue to build on our achievements. It will reflect the views of parents, teachers and local authorities to develop a long-term, sustainable approach to delivering the bilingual opportunities families are calling for.

“I would like to congratulate the Bòrd on its work to promote Gaelic culture and to encourage the many community groups that are creating opportunities for speakers of all ages and backgrounds.”

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