Scottish Election 2021: Gaelic education needs boosted to preserve language, says SNP

Gaelic primary and secondary schools could be built across Scotland, with corresponding investment in the number of Gaelic teachers to staff them, as the SNP seeks to make the whole country a ‘gàidhealtachd’ – a place where the Gaelic language is spoken.

A new commitment by the SNP, ahead of its manifesto launch, would see the Gaelic tradition “at the forefront of the nation’s culture” and ensure the language has a sustainable, long-term future with the introduction of a Scottish Languages Bill.

According to party sources, they are also exploring the creation of a recognised “gàidhealtachd”, with the “ambition being for the entirety of Scotland to be a Gaelic speaking country”.

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The SNP has outlined plans to boost Gaelic schools.

A “gàidhealtachd” is a region where Gaelic is an integral part of culture and community, and currently applies to the Outer Hebrides, the north-west Highlands, Skye and Lochalsh, and Argyll and Bute, as well as the small Gaelic populations in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

As a result the SNP would, if re-elected to government, encourage the creation of new stand-alone Gaelic speaking primary and secondary schools across Scotland, with an increase in the number of teachers who can teach in the medium of Gaelic.

Support for already established Gaelic units within English-speaking schools would also continue and the plan would also see the range of subjects taught in Gaelic throughout high schools expanded.

Alasdair Allan, SNP candidate for the Western Isles, said: “The SNP fully recognises the massively important contribution the Gaelic tradition has and continues to make to Scotland’s rich culture. This commitment will be welcomed by both Gaelic and non-Gaelic speaking Scots alike and will be key to encouraging the use of Gaelic in our communities.

“We will put our money where our mouth is to encourage the creation of new Gaelic primary and secondary schools across the country with major investment to increase the number of teachers who can teach through Gaelic.

“We want to increase the range of subjects that can be taught in Gaelic for both a broad general education and in the senior phase of secondary school. That’s why we will explore the bursaries that are available to encourage conversion to Gaelic.

“We believe there is value is creating a recognised ‘gàidhealtachd’ to raise levels of language competence and the provision of more services through Gaelic. Supporting the creation of a gàidhealtachd helps reinforce what is the position in some parts of the country already. A recognition of Gaelic as a primary language of a place.”

Mr Allan said the SNP would also review the functions and structures of Bòrd na Gàidhlig (BnG) to make sure Scotland has an effective leadership body for the promotion of Gaelic, as well as continuing to invest in BBC Alba and BBC Radio nan Gàidheal.

“Through reviewing the functions and structures of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, we will explore how it can support the formal recognition of a gàidhealtachd,” he said.

“The review will also consider how the Scottish Government and BnG can work with other bodies that have functions in arts, tourism and heritage to explore what more they can do to help deliver faster rates of progress for Gaelic.”

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