[lg policy] 'Let's be accurate: There's no proposal to bring in new interviews in Irish for Gaelscoils'

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri Feb 16 11:10:42 EST 2018

 'Let's be accurate: There's no proposal to bring in new interviews in
Irish for Gaelscoils' ‘The policy affects the allocation of less than 1% of
places in Gaelscoileanna but is of vital importance to the minority of
native speakers involved’, writes Colmán Ó’Drisceoil.
9 hours ago 8,010 Views 18 Comments
Colmán Ó'Drisceoil Principal of Scoil Lorcáin in Monkstown

HEADLINES SUCH AS ‘Anger over plan to carry out Gaelscoil interviews in
Irish’ and ‘Pre-school children may face admission interviews in Irish’
have caused understandable alarm and confusion in recent days.

But there is no proposal to bring in any new ‘interview’ or ‘exam’ or
‘test’ as part of the admissions process in Gaelscoileanna.

All that is being considered is the formal recognition of the current
practice in some oversubscribed Gaelscoileanna which give priority in their
admissions policy to children who speak Irish as a home language.

*Vital importance to native speakers *

Over 95% of children in Gaelscoileanna come from homes where English or
foreign languages are spoken and this will continue to be the case. The
policy affects the allocation of less than 1% of places in Gaelscoilanna.

It has a negligible effect on overall admissions policy but is of vital
importance to the small minority of native speakers involved.

Unfortunately, these children are unable to achieve full competency and
literacy in their native language in English medium schools.

The policy is of even more importance to Irish speaking families where
there is a child with learning difficulties. These families have enough
difficulties trying to access appropriate supports such as speech therapy
and Irish speaking SNA’s without facing the additional obstacle of being
denied a place in Irish medium education.

*Play session *

The process by which this priority allocation occurs is generally that
parents state in their application that they are raising the child through
Irish. They are then invited to come to a play session in the school with
the child.

The child plays with some toys and the school staff observe that Irish is
indeed the language of communication between parent and child. There is no
more pressure or stress involved than there would be in confirming that a
child speaks English as a first language.

There are similar policies in place to ensure the rights of English or
French speaking minority populations in Canada, and the Swedish speaking
minority in Finland.

*Facts *

The rights of speakers of minority language education to mother tongue
education are enshrined in several international conventions such as the
United Nations convention on the rights of the child, which Ireland
ratified without reservation in 1992

It seems likely however that the practice of some Gaelscoileanna of
interviewing parents as part of their admission process will be disallowed
under the proposed legislation.

Whatever people’s opinions are on this policy, it is important that any
public debate should be based on the facts, rather than on misleading and
alarmist headlines.

*Colmán Ó Drisceoil is a member of the Parents Group Cearta Oideachais and
the principal of Scoil Lorcáin in Monkstown, Co Dublin.*


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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