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Call for Education Minister to ensure that every school is Welsh medium by 2050

02 Aug 2022 4 minute read
Jeremy Miles, Wales’ Education Minister. Picture by the Welsh Government

Welsh language activists have called on the Education Minister to ensure that every school in Wales is Welsh medium by 2050.

Their call comes as the Welsh Government prepares to publish the white paper for a proposed Welsh Language Education Bill.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith has launched its own draft Act which they say emphasises the opportunity the Minister for Education has to ensure Welsh language education for all.

Their draft Education Act includes a package of measures to expand and normalise Welsh-medium education, including establishing a rule that all new schools must be Welsh-medium.

Catrin Dafydd on behalf of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Education Group said : “There is a once in a generation opportunity from the Welsh Government and the Minister, Jeremy Miles specifically, to draw up a law that will ensure Welsh medium education for everyone.

“It is shameful that a lucky minority get a Welsh education while 80% of young people in Wales continue to study ‘Welsh as a Second Language’.

“There is a consensus that that system deprives a large percentage of children of the ability to speak Welsh fluently, which excludes them from opportunities in their communities, from jobs and from a wealth of Welsh culture.

“The inequality is most evident among disadvantaged communities, migrants and people of colour. If the Government seriously believes that the Welsh language belongs to everyone, the proposed law must ensure Welsh education for everyone, not just the lucky ones.”

‘Duty’

The measures included in Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s draft Education Act include:

  • Setting a statutory target that Welsh will be the language of Wales’ education system by 2050;
  • Establish a rule that all new schools must be Welsh-medium;
  • Replace local Welsh language education strategic plans with a single national framework;
  • Set all schools on a path towards becoming Welsh-medium schools by 2050 at the latest
  • Put a duty on councils to provide free transport to Welsh language schools

Chair of the Cymdeithas yr Iaith, Mabli Siriol Jones, added: “Recently the Government announced targets for the number of Year 1 children who should be taught in Welsh by 2026 and 2031. This growth is too slow if the Government wants to reach its own target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050. But more than that, the Government has missed similar targets in the past.

“There is a historic opportunity from the Minister and the Welsh Government to put in statute that Welsh is the language of education in Wales, setting all schools on a path to provide Welsh-medium education for everyone by 2050.

“Setting new statutory targets for local authorities and planning the workforce is the only way to ensure fairness for everyone. By launching a consultation on our own Act, we hope to draw the attention of the public and organisations to the power the Minister has to at last give the Welsh language to all the children of Wales.”

Cymdeithas yr Iaith will launch its Welsh Education Act at 2pm, on Tuesday 2 August, on its stand at the Eisteddfod.

The Chair of the Cymdeithas yr Iaith, Mabli Siriol Jones, a member of the Education Group, Catrin Dafydd, and Fellow in Welsh Law, Keith Bush, will be on the panel.

Keith Evans / School sign / CC BY-SA 2.0

‘Equality’

A discussion about new education legislation is also taking place in the Basque Country at the moment, and Cymdeithas yr Iaith said that they saw similarities between the situation in the two countries and the demands of language organisations there.

Paul Bilbao Sarria, General Secretary of Euskalgintzaren Kontseilua, an organisation that brings together the main organisations working for the normalisation of the Basque languag, said: “In December 2021 Euskalgintzaren Kontseilua [the entity that brings together the civil society for the Basque language] presented the Batuz Aldatu declaration with the support of the trade union and educational majority.

“In this declaration they demanded the implementation of a single generalized model of education based on immersion in Basque in order to guarantee full equality of knowledge of Basque for all students when they finish compulsory education.”


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Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago

There should be no need for this request, it should be automatic. Imagine the call in Germany for students to be taught in German, laughable, or French in France etc, this is a no brainer and should be gov policy, now, no begging, no asking, no protesting,” just do it “.

South Wales
South Wales
4 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

Couldnt agree more, shouldn’t even be debated, just do it.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

2050…there’s optimistic, given the speed with which this handcart is travelling…

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

At risk of offending our Plaid contributors I think that this paper sound very much like so many pronouncements about the Welsh language by Plaid and similar. What is needed is to abolish ALL nursery and primary schooling in the medium of English and quickly. With that DONE WELL (I.e. adequate funding and staffing) there will be no need to worry about the Welsh language as all kids will speak it. All this stuff about ‘New Schools’ having to be Welsh Langiage is ghetto thinking. Start with all the youngsters and let it work its way through until everybody speaks… Read more »

I Humphrys
I Humphrys
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

And, I think it will also aid our spoken English.

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

You’re right that it should start with nurseries. Oswestry has a Welsh medium nursery that’s very popular. The WG could easily implement this across Wales.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

That untitled photo is of the village of Croesor below Cnicht, sometimes known as the Welsh Matterhorn…Croesor was the home of Bob Owen the bookman and historian, its Post Office was also for many years the home of the prolific author and climber Showell Styles, other residents included artist, peace activist and art teacher Tom Kinsey, musicians and patriots…and of course quarry men and their families…

Last edited 4 months ago by Mab Meirion
Eifion
Eifion
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Ysgol Croesor felly ynte nid Ysgol School.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
4 months ago

I agree with the aspiration fully. However, as someone who has worked in education for many years, I have seen many Welsh speaking teachers turned down for teaching jobs which has often meant that they have ended up leaving Wales.

The first thing that needs addressing here is retaining Welsh Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs).

Instead of putting them through the current, arduous, process of applying for jobs and going through gruelling interviews – which they are often turned down for – there should be a culture of head-hunting, training and support.

There needs to be a big rethink.

Last edited 4 months ago by Mr Williams

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