Gaelic courses to get cash despite cutbacks

THE quango Bòrd na Gàidhlig is increasing funding for Gaelic learners, despite impending government cuts, with more than £700,000 promised to one company, Deiseal, to provide adult language courses based on the Ùlpan system.

It follows complaints by another Gaelic learning agency, TAIC, after its annual funding of 185,000 was withdrawn completely. That led to a stream of complaints to education secretary Michael Russell from experts on endangered languages.

Mr Russell, who admits he has struggled to learn Gaelic, is a long-standing advocate of the lpan system which he once described as "the last great hope for Gaelic".

The lpan system originated in post-holocaust Israel when there was a need to assimilate massive numbers of non-Hebrew speaking immigrants.

However, the Israeli government is reviewing the system following complaints that it is outdated and ineffective.

Alasdair Mearns, chairman of the TAIC group, said: "We still don't understand why they have taken away funding from us and given to another organisation.

"They seem to be placing all their eggs in the one basket at a time when a more prudent course might be to spread their bets.

"We are developing techniques in collaboration with native language experts from around the world. We want to produce something that works well here in Scotland."

TAIC funding was withdrawn following a session with Brd representatives.

Mr Mearns feels this could have been handled more sensitively.

He said: "TAIC has been at the forefront of major developments in Gaelic learning for over 30 years. It's not an organisation that can simply be dismissed on the basis of a power-point presentation."

Brd na Gidhlig has now agreed to meet with TAIC to review the situation.

The UK Government scrapped almost 200 quangos yesterday, in a bid to cut costs.