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Saturday, 16 March, 2002, 15:54 GMT
Gaelic targets a new generation
Classroom
More schools are now teaching Gaelic
A growing number of children are learning Gaelic in Scottish schools, a conference has heard.

Culture Minister Mike Watson addressed 150 delegates at an event being held in Glasgow to examine ways in which the language can be promoted in the education system.

And he told them that their "dedication and enthusiasm" had led to a rise in the number of schools teaching pupils Gaelic.


The organisation can help ensure the future of the language in Scotland - an aim to which I, as the minister responsible, am fully committed

Mike Watson
Culture Minister
Mr Watson also stressed his commitment to ensuring the future of the language.

There are currently estimated to be more than 65,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland.

Figures have suggested that only one new person takes up the language for every five Gaelic speakers who die.

Participants from across Scotland attended Saturday's conference to exchange ideas and offer support to those wanting to take Gaelic teaching into more schools.

Representatives from Ireland and Wales also took part to explain how they have been able to revive their own languages.

Further training

It is hoped that extra funding from the Scottish Executive will encourage a new generation of people to learn and teach Gaelic.

In the current financial year the executive has provided 2.8m in specific grants for Gaelic education.

Mr Watson told the conference that an extra 200,000 had been made available for further training of Gaelic-speaking secondary school teachers to enable them to deliver their subject in the language.

The event was organised by Comann nam Parant, a network of 30 local groups representing the interests of parents whose children are educated in Gaelic.

Mike Watson
Mike Watson is the minister responsible for Gaelic
Mr Watson said: "The dedication and enthusiasm of the conference delegates here today in working to promote the provision of Gaelic-medium education in Scotland is demonstrated by the increasing numbers of children learning the language in our schools.

"Since 1993 the number of primary schools offering Gaelic-medium education has grown from 45 to 59 and the corresponding number of pupils from 1,080 to 1,859.

"In pre-school education there are now 403 pupils taught in 36 registered nurseries. Many of these developments have been assisted by Comann nam Parant."

He said the organisation had an important part to play in the current and future developments.

"By bringing parents together to discuss issues, providing support to schools, attracting additional funding and supporting extra-curricular activities, the organisation can help ensure the future of the language in Scotland - an aim to which I, as the minister responsible, am fully committed," he said.

See also:

13 Oct 01 | Scotland
Funding boost for Gaelic
08 Sep 00 | Scotland
Minister denies Gaelic confusion
02 Mar 00 | Scotland
Gaelic lessons for parliament
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