Momentum Builds For Welsh Medium Education - Cardiff Announces Changes in Welsh Language Education

In a significant advance for the Welsh language the government has signaled a change in the direction of Welsh Medium education.  Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones along with Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills, declared that a change is needed in the use of the Welsh tongue in the nations’ educational system.  Jones stated that the Celtic tongue needs to be made “…a part of pupil’s everyday lives rather than confined to specific lessons.”

In a letter to the Welsh Language Society (Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg) the following shift in education policy was outlined by the First Minister as quoted in multiple news reports: “As we move forward, we must move away from the concept of ‘second language’ towards a coordinated and integrated consideration of the Welsh language as a genuinely living language. Naturally, challenges will arise as we develop the new curriculum for Wales which satisfies our ambitions, but the Welsh Government is completely committed to this approach."

The Welsh Language Society has welcomed this development. A spokesman declared in response to the government’s move: “The system of second language Welsh is failing the vast majority of our young people, although there are examples of teachers working miracles within the present failed system. Every single pupil should leave school with the ability to communicate and work in Welsh. One way of doing that is to abolish the second-rate, second language, path which exists at the moment.”

This welcome development comes in the wake of mounting pressure in recent years in support of welsh medium education. In September 2013 a broad coalition, including Rugby Coach Robin McBryde and MP Susan Elan Jones, called in a letter to First Minister Jones, to "abolish the teaching of Welsh as a 'second language' like French or Spanish."  The letter was signed by an impressive list of supporters reflecting deep bipartisan support for this initiative

In August of this year the Welsh Language Society called on Cardiff to introduce educational reforms to ensure that Welsh Medium Education is available to all students. The Society has been campaigning for the rights of Welsh speakers since its formation in 1962 and since then has launched protests in support of Celtic tongue of Wales.  In 2011 the work of The Welsh Language Society pressured the National Assembly to adopt the Welsh Language Measure establishing the Welsh language as an official language of Wales and introducing the post of Welsh Language Commissioner.

The current Language Commissioner, Meri Huws, has proven to be a tireless champion for the Welsh tongue and this latest move in the direction of universal Welsh medium education can be in large part credited to her guiding hand.

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