Victory For Scots Gaelic - Edinburgh's Parliament Rights an Historic Wrong

There has been a stunning victory for Scots Gaelic in the Scottish Parliament.  Under the 2016 Education Bill approved yesterday, Scotland’s local authorities will be required to provide a public education in Gaelic if requested by parents. This statute applies even if the area has no history of Gaelic speaking.  In reaction, Scotland’s Bòrd Na Gàidhlig has issued the following statement hailing this historic breakthrough for the Celtic tongue of Scotland:

 “This final part of the Parliamentary process has left Gaelic, and Gaelic education in particular, in a much stronger position than ever before. We have an entitlement across Scotland for Gaelic-medium primary education which will ensure that Councils will treat seriously and consistently, the aspirations of parents for Gaelic education while working within a national framework. The detail of the application of this legislation will be developed by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and its partners, and we are well down the road of preparing the Statutory Guidance which will be subject to a 12 week formal consultation once Royal Assent is granted. Finally it would be remiss of me not to thank the Minister for Scotland’s Languages, Dr. Alasdair Allan, for ensuring that this piece of legislation was brought before this term of the Scottish Parliament. ” - Bòrd na Gàidhlig Interim CEO, Bruce Robertson

This remarkable legislation goes a long way in reversing the monstrous wrong perpetrated by the United Kingdom government against the Celtic tongue of Scotland. The Scots Gaelic Tongue has persisted in spite of the blow dealt by the vicious Education Act of 1872 that forbade the use of Scots Gaelic in the classroom.  In an August 2012 on line article entitled “1872 Education Act's Impact on Gaelic to be Explored”, the BBC gave an historical insight into damage done to Gaelic by the educational establishment of the United Kingdom. For at least 160 years prior to the scurrilous 1872 act,  school children in Scotland were physically abused for speaking Gaelic:   “The Education (Scotland) Act 1872” which introduced compulsory schooling for children across Scotland, but excluded the teaching of Gaelic.  The move has been regarded as hugely damaging to the use and promotion of the language.  Before the (1872) act was introduced, education authorities were actively discouraging Gaelic and pushed young speakers towards speaking English fluently. The Society in Scotland for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, set up in 1709, was said to have been "outwardly hostile" towards Gaelic in its work educating young Gaels.  It told teachers to ban its use in schools and playgrounds. Following the act, children caught speaking Gaelic were belted and faced further corporal punishment if they did not give up the names of classmates they had been talking to.”  - BBC News August 1, 2012

A spokesman for Dr Alasdair Allan, Scotland’s Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages praised yesterdays vote by Edinburgh’s Parliament: “Through this education bill, the SNP has created a presumption in favour of Gaelic medium primary education where there is parental demand for it and where it can be shown to be reasonable for local authorities to provide it.  No local authority will have to provide Gaelic education where there is no demand or justification for it….we keep our promises to the electorate. And our commitment to Gaelic is resulting in more children growing up learning and speaking... (Scots Gaelic)….That’s surely something all Members of the Scottish Parliament should celebrate.”

In  a 2014 the article entitled "Language as Activism: The Big Gaelic Comeback - The Native Tongue of the Highlands and Islands Seemed to be Dying Out - Until The Latest Figures Were Released", the New Statesman’s Cal Flyn cited  the growth in the number of children who are being taught in the Gaelic medium.  Under the new legislation this process will cause local authorizes to essentially supply on demand Gaelic Medium educational opportunities to students.  This will accelerate the already strong revival of Scotland’s Celtic tongue:   ”There is a Gaelic revival under way. Increasing numbers of parents – even those who don’t speak the language – are opting to send their children to Gaelic-medium schools, where all subjects are taught in the language. In 1985 there were only 24 primary school children being taught in Gaelic; last year (2013) the figure was 2,953.  Sixty-one schools across Scotland now offer Gaelic-medium education. The expectation is that, as time passes, these young Gaels will revitalise a language that is intricately tied up with their country’s identity. ”Cal Fyn in 2014 in the New Statesman


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