Tha Murray MacLeòid ag ràdh nach e cail ùr a tha ann an cion thidsearan Gàidhlig

Chan eil càil a dh’fhios càite am biodh a’ Ghàidhlig an-diugh às aonais buaidh foghlam tro mheadhan na cànain, ach tha fhios nach biodh co-dhiù an aon seasamh aice ann an sùilean an t-sluaigh.

Tha èiginn air fàire mura tig dèiligeadh le cion thidsearan ann am foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig (Dealbh: Neil Hanna)
Tha èiginn air fàire mura tig dèiligeadh le cion thidsearan ann am foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig (Dealbh: Neil Hanna)

[English-language version below]

Cha d’ fhuair mi fhèin mòran cothrom air (gu foirmeil co-dhiù); bha mi dìreach beagan ro aosd. Ach seach gun deach mo thogail ann an dachaigh loma-làn Gàidhlig agus ann an coimhearsnachd far nach cluinneadh tu mòran ach a’ Ghàidhlig (saoghal eile), cha do chùm e air ais mi cus.

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Tha cuimhne agam air na leabhraichean Gàidhlig clasa a thàinig a-mach an toiseach fhaicinn agus cha robh annta ach faclan Gàidhlig air pàipear air muin na Beurla.

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Ach, tha ùine fhada ann an 40 bliadhna agus ‘s beag an coltas a tha aig na goireasan anns na sgoiltean Gàidhlig an-diugh an taca ris na làithean ud. Tha iad an-diugh cho math ri càil ann an cànan sam bith.

Ach, nochd aithisg an t-seachdain a tha a’ mìneachadh nan duilgheadas a tha aig foghlam Gàidhlig an-dràsta. Dha-rìribh, tha e ag ràdh g’ eil fìor èiginn air fàire mura tig rudeigin a dhèanamh, agus gu cabhagach.

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‘S iad an Dr Mìcheal Foxley, fear a bha na cheannard air Comhairle na Gaidhealtachd, agus an t-Ollamh Bruce Robasdan, ollamh aig Oilthigh Shrath Chluaidh, a sgrìobh i. Tha bliadhnaichean de dh’eòlais aca a tha a’ toirt brìgh agus creideas dhan obair.

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Tha Murray MacLeòid ag ràdh gu bheil margaidh an fhearainn a-mach à rian
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Thug iad sùil air 19 comhairle air feadh Alba far a bheil foghlam tro mheadhan na cànain no far a bheil iad an dòchas a chur an sàs agus tha iad a’ dèanamh a-mach gum feumar 135 tidsear a bharrachd aig ìre bun-sgoile agus 90 san àrd-sgoil.

Airson sin a chur ann an co-theacs a choireigin, cha do cheumnaich ach 25 am bliadhna.

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Mar a tha an aithisg ag ràdh, ‘s e mar a shoirbhich foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig a thaobh leudachaidh a thug an duilgheadas seo gu ceann, ach chan e càil ùr a th’ ann.

Fiù ‘s 20 bliadhna air ais (‘s dòcha nas fhaide na sin) bha mothachadh gun robh trioblaid sna h-àrd-sgoiltean le cion thidsearan, a bha a’ ciallachadh nach fhaigheadh na sgoilearan air am foghlam Gàidhlig a chumail a’ dol ann an dòigh choileanta le diofar chuspairean, a’ ciallachadh gun robh iad an uair sin a’ cur an cùlaibh ris a’ chànan.

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Ged a chaidh oidhirpean gu leòr a dheànamh sin a rèiteachadh, tha an t-iarrtas son foghlam Gàidhlig air fàs gu mòr agus le sin, tha e fhathast na dhuilgheadas. Dha-rìribh, dh’fhaodar a ràdh, mar a tha an aithisg seo a’ mìneachadh, tha e air a dhol na bu mhiosa.

Tha a bhith a’ fastadh thidsearan Gàidhlig na uallach air Bòrd na Gàidhlig – ceum air falbh bhon riaghaltas – ach leis nach eil iad air an t-amas sin a choinneachadh, tha an aithisg ag iarraidh buidheann gnìomh sònraichte a stèidheachadh sa bhad, no cha bhi faisg gu leòr a thidsearan ann airson coinneachadh ris an iarrtas a tha a’ tighinn.

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Aon rud gu math practaigeach a tha iad a’ moladh, ‘s e àrdachadh pàighidh a thabhainn dha tidsearan Gàidhlig, ach bidh gu leòr ann nach bi idir toilichte le sin.

Thuirt Bòrd na Gàidhlig agus an riaghaltas g’ eil iadsan a’ dèanamh an dìcheall airson tidsearan Gàidhlig a thàladh.

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Ach, ‘s e bunait na cùise nach eil iad a’ soirbheachadh mar bu chòir agus, mar a tha an aithisg ga dhèanamh soilleir, mura tig seo a chur ceart sa bhad, nì e cron mòr air cliù foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig agus, le sin, air a’ chànan fhèin san fharsaingeachd.

English-language version:

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Without the introduction and subsequent growth of Gaelic medium education (GME), it is doubtful whether the language would enjoy the kind of relevance it does today in the wider cultural lexicon of Scotland.

I’m of a generation that just missed it, although I was fortunate enough to have Gaelic as my first language on account of where I grew up, and surrounded by it on a daily basis, so the lack of a formal education at a young age was not too much of a hindrance, I hope.

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But I recall seeing these first text books for primary kids and realising their rudimentary nature; they were essentially just Gaelic words pasted on top of English books.

But 40 years in education is a long time and the quality and breadth of material now available to Gaelic schools is comprehensive and in no way represents the poor substitute it once did.

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However, a new report published this week, lays bare the challenges facing the sector. Indeed, it goes much further, warning of an impending crisis which could set Gaelic education back years.

The authors, Dr Michael Foxley, a former leader of Highland Council and a long-time supporter of Gaelic, and Professor Bruce Robertson, a former director of education and visiting professor at The University of Strathclyde, have years of experience behind them and give the work both credence and authority.

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By looking at existing and projected future provision across 19 local authorities in Scotland, they have concluded that Scotland will need a minimum of 135 additional Gaelic primary teachers and 90 at secondary. To put that challenge into some sort of context only 25 (21 primary and four secondary) teachers graduated this year.

As the report makes clear, this may be a classic case of GME being the victim of its own success – demand out-stripping supply, you could say – but it’s hardly any kind of new revelation.

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Even as far back as 20 years ago (and probably even before then) there was a recognised problem in the secondary sector, in that a shortage of teachers meant pupils were not able to continue a comprehensive range of Gaelic education in subjects and so were drifting away from the language.

While certainly efforts have been made to address that situation, the intervening period has also seen exponential growth in demand for GME, so the problem has not gone away. Indeed, it could be said to be a lot worse.

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Gaelic teacher recruitment is now in the hands of Bord na Gaidhlig – a step removed from government – but given they have managed to make little in-roads into addressing the situation, the report calls for a “new task force to be urgently established” as “there simply will not be enough qualified teachers to meet the growing numbers and popularity of GME”.

One very practical solution it puts forward is to increase pay which, given the additional specialisation of teaching through a second language, makes sense on one level, but will of course be resisted.

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As you would imagine the response from Bord na Gaidhlig and the government is that they are doing an awful lot to attract Gaelic teachers.

But the crucial point is it’s clearly not enough and, as the report makes clear, if allowed to continue will simply result in stagnation and even regression, with all the reputational damage that that will entail.

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