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First Minister: Compulsory Welsh medium education ‘will alienate people’

07 Dec 2022 3 minute read
Adam Price (left) and Mark Drakeford (right) clashed in the Senedd

One year into the cooperation agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru both party leaders clashed when discussing the nationwide fall in the number of Welsh speakers.

Questions to the First Minister yesterday, (6 December) came on the same day as the 2021 Welsh language census data results.

In the Senedd, Adam Price asked Mark Drakeford about the “further decline” in the number of Welsh language speakers.

The leader of Plaid Cymru pointed out that, 10 years ago the ambition of a million Welsh speakers was put in place, in a response in the decline in census figures at that point.

Mr Price asked: “This demonstrates, doesn’t it, that a central element of the Welsh Government policy is failing …  so wouldn’t the most positive response to today’s news be to ensure that the Welsh Education Bill that is proposed would provide Welsh medium education to all children in Wales …?”

Mark Drakeford’s response was that he didn’t agree with the final point made: “There are a number of things underpinning these figures, and it’s worth taking the time to consider what lies behind them … things are more complex I think than the leader of Plaid Cymru suggested this afternoon …”

Disappointed

Back on his feet, Mr Price said: “I am disappointed with your initial response First Minister, because there was recognition as the figures were published 10 years that we were in a critical situation …”

Mark Drakeford’s reply was that he was always more of an optimist than Plaid Cymru: “They hate it when you point out to them that always on every point when they get up on their feet is always to give the most pessimistic view possible of what Wales can achieve.”

By this point in time, Adam Price and a few other Plaid Cymru Senedd members were shaking their heads more in sorrow than in anger mode.

After informing the Llywydd that he “was well aware of the difference between a number and a percentage” in a reference to an earlier point made by Adam Price, and indeed thanking him for that, the First Minister continued.

Alienate people

“He has offered one solution this afternoon, a solution that my party will not adopt. I’ve been as clear as I can with him about that – compulsory education for everybody through the medium of Welsh is not the answer to the Welsh language in Wales. It will alienate people who are sympathetic to the Welsh language. It will set the language backwards, not forwards.”

There was some light relief later on – thanks to a question from Hefin David MS for Caerphilly. He asked the First Minister for his assessment of the first-year cooperation agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru. This resulted in laughter and smiles from both sides, including both Mark Drakeford and Adam Price.

The First Minister said: “By working together we have made real progress on a range of joint commitments that have had a direct impact on people’s ability to manage during this cost-of-living crisis. These include free school meals, the expansion of free child care and measures that help people to live in their local communities.


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hdavies15
hdavies15
2 months ago

In a roundabout way Drakeford is acknowledging that Labour still harbour a thick slice of Welsh haters among its supporter base, and he won’t do anything to alienate them. Add that segment of Labour to the elements within the other Unionist parties that also despise or view Welsh with down their nose contempt and it becomes obvious why Drakeford dare not take risks. After all it could reduce his chances of delivering “Continuity Labour” for another term.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
2 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

hd I cannot help but worry about the educational outcome for all children here in Wales, a point that is rarely mentioned in this discourse…

hdavies15
hdavies15
2 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

No doubt that the wider issues of “quality” of education are also at risk. Despite all the claims about spending, investing, innovating and sundry other buzz words I’m left with a sense of dumbing down because the basic platforms of literacy, numeracy and reasoning seem to be getting skipped over. And that’s not even thinking about the shortage of teachers to deliver subjects through the medium of Welsh. Then you have the Bay regime using “experts” to carry on extolling the virtues of going off to Oxbridge or other centres of excellence. Why not develop similar centres at Aber, Bangor,… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
2 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Could not agree more…probably damages their moral compass for the rest of their lives as far as I can see…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
2 months ago

Channelling my other half here hd
Nadhim Zahawi, Tory Party Chairman, set up a ‘charity’ called Uprising Leadership, just as you say, mentoring 18-25s to greater things. Now chaired by Rushanara Ali MP and with Richard Sharp, BBC top brass, as a trustee. They have teamed up with WelshGov Future Generations Leadership Academy amongst others to swill the public money around including Children in Need. Will be interesting to see the outcome data on this.

hdavies15
hdavies15
2 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Outcomes? When posturing and flinging new gestures about the place the outcomes hardly come into it. Sure thing there will be loads of hot air but when people reflect on such programmes the outcomes are ill defined at best.

Riki
Riki
2 months ago

So they finally show their true colours! What alienates people is how everything they consume is in a language not native to the Country, what alienates people is how little children are made to feel ashamed for speaking it! Why are the Welsh so unique, in the fact they are so willing to destroy their own culture in order to come across as modernly Progressive to one Group of People? Just one!!! Those from across the Bridge!

Last edited 2 months ago by Riki
Rhosddu
Rhosddu
2 months ago
Reply to  Riki

As I’ve said before, the Blue Books certainly did a number on the Welsh language. That negative attitude to Welsh has declined to a considerable degree in recent years, but it still lingers. I suspect that Drakeford is wise to acknowledge its continuing presence. Perhaps he is also worried by the reaction from settlers, although many of them are well-disposed towards the language these days. Adam Price is a highly principled man, but sometimes he doesn’t read the runes; Mark Drakeford, in contrast, is a pragmatic, one-step-forward-two-steps-back politician. But he needs to accept that sometimes adverse situations require more urgent… Read more »

Richard
Richard
2 months ago

MD is of course right re compulsion and of course their are not the right mix of teachers – but of course the later is perhaps in his power to fix ?

Mawkernewek
2 months ago

Surely compulsory education in any language alienates people, if compulsory education in Welsh does, so could compulsory education in English?

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
2 months ago

Compulsory monolingual English education alienates people from their mother tongue and heritage. This unionist party needs to be kicked out. One hundred years as a one party state. Where else in Europe? Not even Belarus has this record! Deffrwch Gymry gysglyd, y chwi sy’n cerdded ar erchwyn y bedd!

Not graham jones
Not graham jones
2 months ago

MD is right and what the Plaid brigade seem to forget 83% of people in Wales do NOT speak Welsh so the first language of Wales is English and has not been Welsh for many many years. That is a fact and you can wish for it to be otherwise all you like.

Cawr
Cawr
2 months ago

I can’t put it any other way. F**k off over the border. Unless youre already there. One day that 83% will be flipped and will represent the number of Welsh speakers instead. Whether you like it or not.

Not graham jones
Not graham jones
2 months ago
Reply to  Cawr

In your dreams lol

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
2 months ago

A fact due to brilliant language planning – as the language was made compulsory in the school and workplace. The alien tongue. The same could be done with the native tongue.

Eifion
2 months ago

Cymraeg ydi iaith gyntaf Cymru mae hynny yn ffaith. dwi’n credu mai o’r Almaen daeth y Sacsoneg ail iaith Cymru. .1 yn dod o flaen 2 dach chi’n gweld mr Jones neu ddim mr Jones nos da.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 months ago

All I’d say to Mark Drakeford is this. Why do those nations in Europe, especially in the multilingual Nordic countries, have the ability to teach Norwegian, Swedish & Danish as a first language but also to be fluent in both English any different to us. You keep saying the British Union is so good for Wales. So good it’s destroying our culture & native language What you lack Mark Drakeford is guts. Guts to ensure Britain & Wales first language once on the brink due to English racism & bigtory will flourish into the 21st century. All our children should… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
2 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

That should go in the book Y Cymro…

Iago
Iago
2 months ago

There’s no point pointing fingers at anyone in particular for the decline in the number of Welsh speakers. Everyone in Wales is to blame! Politicians have no backbone, parents don’t send their kids to Welsh schools, and non-Welsh speakers are too lazy and make excuses for not learning it. Only the Welsh people themselves will let the language die.

Gwyn Hopkins
Gwyn Hopkins
2 months ago

If the Welsh Government is serious about creating a million Welsh speakers by 2050, a comprehensive and absolutely resolute strategy to foster the Welsh language is desperately needed. This requires the formation of a team of proven experts in language restoration (some from other countries, perhaps) employed on a permanent basis until the process is clearly on the road to success.  Half-hearted attempts and wishful thinking won’t do the job.        

Eifion
2 months ago
Reply to  Gwyn Hopkins

Cytuno. Alienate pwy?

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
2 months ago

It comes to something when even a Conservative MS, Samuel Kurtz, is full of criticism for Drakeford’s half-hearted commitment to ensuring the survival of the Welsh Language in its’ own heartlands.

Drakeford’s leadership has become tired and staid. Time to stand down. As support for independence continues and our communities will come under increasing pressure, we need a strong leader – regardless of political colour – who is willing to stand up for the interests of Wales.

CJPh
CJPh
2 months ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

Clywch, clywch. Two bits of wisdom to see us through, one Left, one Right: “The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.” – Antonio Gramsci, Communist. Maybe that Monster is a good deal older and hungrier than we know, a monster that lives in the hearts of our own leaders. A monster that beats and maims the Dragon. The main question is ‘have our political elites been so devoured, or do they straddle the very beast that preys upon us?’ Well, it bears saying that: “In the struggle for… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
2 months ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

Kurtz is of immigrant stock that chose to integrate. He has command of the language probably as good as or may be batter than that of Sir Gar native Drakeford. Lazy Anglicised natives don’t do well in any comparison and they feature heavily when looking at who fosters our dependency culture.

Mike Flynn
Mike Flynn
2 months ago

There are more pressing matters for the Welsh Government to throw money at than the language. It appears to decline now matter how much is invested in so called bilingualism.

The health service should be top of the list.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Flynn

The health and care of the people of Wales should be at the top of any bl**dy list…this is straying into Brexit mentality land…

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