President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh (left) and director of Acadamh OEG Professor Breandán MacSuibhne greet Minister of State Jack Chambers
A three-year fund of €3m for the Higher Education Authority is to be allocated to Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge to enable them to continue to provide a range of courses through the medium of Irish in their three Gaeltacht centres - in Gaoth Dobhair, Carna and An Cheathrú Rua.
The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, and Minister for the Gaeltacht and Sport, Jack Chambers made the announcement on Friday.
The allocation is €1m per academic year, an addition of €300,000 to the previous three year funding programme.
As part of the work programme agreed with the Acadamh, it is proposed to employ a person with a PhD in Early Education or a related field to, hold workshops in the Gaeltacht Centres; develop modules for the BA in Early Education for the area of early education which will aim to support the provision of appropriate training through Irish for early education practitioners working in naíonraí in the Gaeltacht and beyond.
Under the approach agreed with the Acadamh, short courses in language acquisition and enrichment, as it relates to the field of early education, will be provided in the Acadamh's Gaeltacht centres located in Gaoth Dobhair, An Cheathrú Rua and Carna.
Minister Martin said: “I am encouraged by the number of students from the Gaeltacht who go on to university and are able to do so in their native language in centres located in the Gaeltacht. Given that over two thousand students benefit annually from the range of courses run by the Acadamh in the three Gaeltacht centres of the National University of Ireland, Galway - which provide employment for over 60 people under the auspices of the Acadamh - it is clear that the Department's investment, which is in the interests of the Irish language and the Gaeltacht, is being utilised. The additional funding announced today will help in a practical way to further strengthen the Irish language infrastructure in the Gaeltacht for the benefit of the implementation of the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language and the 2018-2022 Action Plan for the Irish Language which supports it.”
Minister of State Chambers said: “With the approval of this three-year allocation - which follows on from the recently concluded three-year funding programme, my department is taking action on the implementation of the 2018-2022 Action Plan for the Irish Language.
“I am particularly pleased with the specific measure mentioned in the programme as it relates to early years. As a result of this measure, a further step will be taken which will be in the interests of the early years system in the Gaeltacht and in the interests of the policy for Gaeltacht education and the language planning process accordingly. The systematic implementation of the work programme which is the subject of this funding will complement the long-established partnership with the Acadamh, in order to provide third level educational opportunities through Irish in the university’s Gaeltacht centres.”
He said he was particularly pleased that the Acadamh is focusing on providing training courses for the early education sector in the Gaeltacht adding that this is in line with the successful implementation of both the language planning process and the policy for Gaeltacht education.
Professor Breandán Mac Suibhne, the Acadamh’s Director of Studies, said:
“Early education is particularly important in language planning. With this additional funding, NUI Galway will be able to better support those already working in playschools. And it will be able to provide a training system to help those entering the early education sector to identify and overcome linguistic challenges. We are very grateful to the Minister and to the Minister of State and to all the staff of the Department for allowing us to play a central role in the development of this important sector.”
In addition, the Department is assisting the University to run a wider range of lectures and workshops in the Gaeltacht centres — Carna, An Cheathrú Rua, and Gaoth Dobhair; These events will benefit the community and students who are spending time in the Gaeltacht as part of their programme of study.”
In line with action 2.19 of the Action Plan - to focus on developing the adaptation of the various programmes to further support the advancement of the language planning process - the department has agreed with the Acadamh that a range of courses will be provided to further support the implementation of the language planning process as it relates to the Gaeltacht areas, Service Towns and Irish Language Networks.
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