Gaelic Medium Education Fuels Scots Gaelic Comeback in Scotland

The Bòrd na Gàidhlig, an organisation formed under Scotland’s the 2005 Language Act, has issued its Annual Report for 2013/2014.  The report attests to dramatic growth in Gaelic medium education showing a 6% increase in primary school and a 7% increase in secondary school enrollment.  The Bord’s report attributes the reversal in the decline of Gaelic speakers, as reported in the 2011 census, to the increases in Gaelic medium education. “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. “

According to a recent article in the New Statesman, there has been a Gaelic revival under way which has witnessed increasing numbers of parents sending their children to Gaelic-medium schools. The article cites that in 1985 there were only 24 primary school children being taught in Gaelic whereas in 2013 the figure had risen to 2,953 in 61 schools across Scotland offering education in the medium of Scots Gaelic.

The Bòrd na Gàidhlig mission under the 2005 legislation is summarised as follows from the organisation’s web site: "The Bòrd na Gàidhlig, works to promote Gaelic in Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Government, the people of Scotland and Gaelic organisations to improve the status of the Gaelic tongue throughout Scotland."   Interestingly the 2005 law extends the Bòrd’s brief beyond Scotland giving the Bòrd stewardship for Scots Gaelic beyond the borders of Scotland as has been recently shown in its support for the Scots Gaelic revival now underway in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

The Stornoway Gazette in an article titled “Gaelic Education Helps Reverse Decline of The Gaelic Language”, quotes Dr. Alasdair Allan, Scotland’s Language Minister, commenting on the Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s Annual Report: “Parents across the country have been clear that they recognise the benefits of a bilingual education for their children and the rolls for Gaelic Medium Education 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….We are currently consulting on the provision of Gaelic Medium Education….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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