Minister of State Jack Chambers speaking in Tourmakeady today.

Boost for Tourmakeady language plan and Mayo Gaeltacht schools

The Minister of State for the Gaeltacht and Sport, Jack Chambers has announced additional supports for Mayo's Gaeltacht primary schools under the Language Assistants’ Scheme.

While visiting Tourmakeady today, he confirmed additional three-year funding of up to €72,000 to enable the provision of additional support under the department's Language Assistants’ Scheme for Gaeltacht primary schools with an attendance of more than 100 students.

Seven Gaeltacht primary schools will be able to benefit from this policy.

Between one and seven extra hours will be allowed in the schools involved - depending on attendance.

During his visit to officially launch the Dúiche Sheoigheach and Tuar Mhic Éadaigh language plan, the Minister of State launched a new handbook, Role of the Language Assistant, which will be a source of reference, information and support for language assistants, scheme administrators and Gaeltacht school management and teaching teams.

The implementation of these measures is in line with the recommendations of the Review of the Language Assistants’ Scheme report commissioned by the Department and published in 2019.

As a result of this additional fund, a total fund of approximately €1,230,943 per school year 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 114 language assistants working under the scheme.

This represents an increase of €449,701 more than the amount spent under the scheme annually up to four years ago.

Minister of State Chambers said: “With the announcement of this additional fund and the publication of the Role of the Language Assistant handbook, major steps have been taken to further support both the language planning process and the implementation of the policy for Gaeltacht education.

"The review of the scheme recommended that the work being done under the auspices of the Language Assistants’ Scheme in Gaeltacht primary schools with an attendance of more than 100 students should be further supported.

"It was also suggested that a handbook be produced as a source of reference and support which provides an overview of the work of the language assistant.

"With the announcement of this fund and the publication of the handbook, both of these recommendations have now been implemented.

“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.

"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.

"As a result of this additional funding and handbook, the scheme is being further and gradually strengthened - using available resources.”

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.

In launching the Dúiche Sheoigheach and Tuar Mhic Éadaigh Language Plan, Minister of State Chambers thanked Comharchumann Dhúiche Sheoigheach Teo. (CDS) and the language planning committee for the work done and planned in relation to the area plan:

“As with all the language plans already approved and implemented, in this case the people of Dúiche Sheoigheach and Tuar Mhic Éadaigh are being given the opportunity to choose their own priorities under the plan and to participate in the implementation of the plan on the basis of a partnership.

"This plan and these efforts are all in the interest of the Irish language locally.”

A copy of the plan and a progress report can be found here.