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Basque language expert says Welsh-medium education for all children is possible

27 Oct 2022 3 minute read
School children. Welsh Government

A Basque Country language expert has said Welsh-medium education for all children is possible.

The expert has supported a call to include a statutory goal in the upcoming legislation that all children in Wales should receive Welsh-medium education ahead of a Cymdeithas yr Iaith symposium on the issue.

The campaign group’s recent draft Bill, drawn up by Fellow in Welsh Law Keith Bush, includes as its main objective the aim of ensuring over time that all children will receive Welsh-medium education, and shows in a practical way how this would be possible.

According to Paul Bilbao Sarria of Euskalgintzaren Kontseilua, a language group in the Basque Country:”The education system in the Basque Country has shown that children need to receive Basque-medium education in order to become fluent in Basque. It follows that the same is true for the Welsh language.

“Furthermore, the rights of the child must be prioritised. Depriving children of a Welsh-medium education goes against the concept of social cohesion.

“I will explain at the Cymdeithas yr Iaith Seminar how we in the Basque Country ensure that every child leaves school fluent in Basque, and how the same could be possible for the Welsh language in Wales if the Government passes an education law similar to the draft Welsh Language Education for All Act that Cymdeithas yr Iaith has produced.”

White Paper

Catrin Dafydd on behalf of the Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Education Group said: “The Welsh Government is expected to publish a White Paper for a Welsh Language Education Act, so the Symposium is an opportunity to discuss our draft act, which proposes that a statutory goal should be included in the proposed law which would mean that all children in Wales would receive Welsh-medium education by 2050. 

“We must put an end to the current exclusion of 80% of children from the opportunity to become fluent in the language, and put all schools on a path to becoming Welsh-medium schools.

“Paul Bilbao Sarria’s testimony from the Basque Country is clear that the ambition of giving equal opportunities to all children is achievable if the political will to do that exists.”

Other members of the panel will be Fellow of Welsh Law, Keith Bush and Senedd Member Alun Davies who is sponsoring the event. 

The event will be chaired by Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones, Chair of Collaborative Research Network: Bilingual Education and the Welsh language. 

The Symposium will be held at 10.30am on Thursday 27 October at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay.

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1 year ago

Is the goal for all children to be educated entirely in Welsh? Or for all children to have some of their education through the medium of Welsh. The article is unclear – perhaps deliberately so. If the former, what about the right of all children to receive education in their mother tongue? Or are we moving towards the “not Sais” where children are to be penalised for speaking the language natural to them?

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