Compulsary English

  • 20 August 2007
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Sir Who does the Minister of Education and Science think she is in issuing a dictate to all Gaelscoileanna that they must teach English to all of their students. Compulsory English!


This is worse than the misguided educational policy enunciated by Enda Kenny TD in a bid to win popular support before the last General Election, when he stated that all pupils following the Junior Certificate need not bother to study Irish further, unless they wanted to. What a shortsighted policy, just when the Irish language is turning the corner.

If I were in charge of a Gaelscoil I would ignore the irresponsible mouthings of the Minister and seek her resignation and I hope and trust that will be done.

Irish was my first language at school. I had to learn English. I learned English from my playmates long before I went to school. Of course, every boy and girl should learn English, the language of Shakespeare and the most widely spoken language in the world. But all in good time, of course.

In the future every young Irish woman and Irish man should be able to speak at least two continental languages as well as the language of this country. Only a small fraction of Irish people can speak Irish fluently at the moment but that is changing.

I have reason to believe that this dictate by Mary Hanafin TD, is motivated by the need to provide English for all children of immigrants. By all means English classes should be provided for immigrants but not at the expense of Irish in our own Gaelscoileanna.

In another different context, I wrote to Mary Hanafin TD, some years ago to point out to her that in a stamp celebrating the discovery of Quotarians by the Irish scientist Rowan Hamilton, the equation An Post quoted (on the stamp) was not the full and correct equation arrived at by Rowan Hamilton.

My letter was given to someone in the Department of Education and Science. The answer I received consisted of a long litany of all the great things that the Government was doing to celebrate Rowan Hamilton. No mention whatsoever was made of the whole point of my letter, which concerned the centenary stamp issued by An Post.

To my astonishment the Minister actually signed this letter.

Hamilton's discovery of Quotarians is very important and is known by all scientists worldwide. Today NASA uses them in space exploration. The exploration of culpable ignorance and arrogance in this so-called Department of Education and Science is long overdue.