Two stories highlighting good news for our fellow Gaels in Scotland as the declining population of Scottish speakers begins to stabilise and we start to see signs of a small resurgence, in part attributable to the official recognition and promotion of Scotland’s native tongue by the SNP government in Edinburgh. From the Scotsman newspaper:
“A MAJOR push to train more teachers in Gaelic has been announced, to try to double the number of pupils speaking the language in Scotland.
Development agency Bòrd na Gàidhlig has produced the second National Gaelic Plan for the Scottish Government, making its headline target to increase the number of pupils speaking the language entering Primary One from 400 to 800 a year.
To meet this aim, officials are prioritising pre-school education alongside community action.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig will play a leading role in rolling out a teacher education strategy.
This includes initial teacher education, support for teachers currently teaching through the medium of English interested in transferring to Gaelic medium education, and support for teachers currently in the Gaelic system.
Dr Alasdair Allan, the minister for learning, science and Scotland’s languages, launched the Scottish Government’s National Gaelic Language Plan 2012-17 on a visit to Stenhouse Primary School in Edinburgh yesterday.
The plan states there is a need to strengthen the infrastructure of Gaelic education and learning generally by supporting the recruitment of a confident, properly trained workforce in order to service the expansion of Gaelic education.
Along with the help of the Scottish Government, local authorities and further education institutions, the Bòrd will support initiatives to increase the range of courses available to those who wish to enter teaching, or to transfer to teaching Gaelic.”
Meanwhile over on ForArgyll an article focusing on the success of BBC Alba, the Scottish language television channel:
“Since its launch on Freeview and on Virgin Media in 2011, BBC ALBA is now serving an audience of around half a million viewers a week.
Today, 29th June, MG ALBA, the Gaelic Media Service, published its Annual Report for the financial year 2011-12., highlighting the following successes:
- four out of five Gaelic speakers are watching BBC ALBA every week
- the average 15+ minute weekly reach for BBC ALBA for the year was 436,000, compared with 180,000 the previous year
- the anytime average weekly reach was 515,000, compared with 220,000 the previous year
- viewing of BBC ALBA programmes on the iPlayer doubled over the course of the year, rising from 1.56 million viewings the previous year to 2.2 million viewings
- in the course of the year, MG ALBA funded 384 hours of content for BBC ALBA, with 72% (target 50%) of the programme expenditure being with eighteen (18) independent production companies
- LearnGaelic.net, an interactive website that provides a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in learning Gaelic, was launched in October 2011. This online resource was created in partnership with the BBC, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Board of Celtic Studies and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig with help from the Scottish Government
- MG ALBA celebrated the success of its FilmG project that is growing year upon year, with 76 new films submitted to the competition. Over 200 short films made by individuals, schools and communities can be viewed here at the FilmG website.
Alasdair Morrison, Chairman of MG ALBA, says: ‘Not only has BBC ALBA made an important contribution to broadcasting in Scotland over the past year, but it has also strengthened the profile and use of the Gaelic language.”
Until Lowlanders start to see Scottish as THEIR language in the same way Highlanders and men of the Hebrides do – not just complimentary to Scottishness, but an integral and foundational part of it – the language has no hope. I’ll consider there to be hope when I no longer constantly hear “MY ancestors never spoke Gaelic! Why should I?”. No amount of legislation can change attitudes.
Very true, James. A good point that needs to be recognised. How do you persuade people who’s ancestors did indeed have a different “ethnic” identity tied up with the English language and culture that a Gaelic identity can be theirs too – in Scotland or Ireland?