Schools row: Health body Assistant Director compared treatment of non-Welsh speakers to ‘apartheid’
The assistant director of an organisation that trains the healthcare workforce in Wales compared the treatment of non-Welsh speakers to “apartheid” in a row over changing schools to Welsh medium.
James Moore, who is responsible for Organisational Design and Development at Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW), which sits within NHS Wales, made the comparison on Facebook in response to a story about plans to change a primary school from English to Welsh-medium.
Moore, who is from Sheffield, but lives in Llansteffan, suggested that it was time for non-Welsh speakers to “stand up to the oppressors”.
He compared Welsh speakers to white people in South Africa during the time the country was under a system of institutionalised racial segregation, which ended in the 1990s.
Moore also asked if non-Welsh speakers “should use different buses” or “different drinking fountains”.
Nation.Cymru contacted James Moore for comment but have not yet received a reply.
A spokesperson for the HEIW said that it does not “condone” the comments, but that they were made in a “personal capacity”.
Carmarthenshire Council was preparing for a consultation exercise over proposals to introduce changes to Model Church in Wales School in Carmarthen and Ysgol y Felin in Llanelli, which would have seen them move towards being Welsh language schools from September 2022.
The council later scrapped the consultation to make Model Church in Wales School a Welsh-medium school following a backlash from staff at the school, along with trade and teaching unions.
Moore said: “The English language is the single most important export from the UK and gives us all a huge advantage in the world. Anything that undermines this in the cause of meeting nationalist zealotry harms us all.
“Just imagine if you changed the word English to ‘black’ or (historically in South Africa) ‘coloured’… perhaps non-Welsh speakers should use different buses? Maybe different drinking fountains?
“As was the case in South Africa where the whites were a small minority, is it time for the 80% non-Welsh speakers to stand up to the oppressors to stop the ongoing apartheid?!”
He added: “Bilingualism is great in many parts of the world; however, narrow mindedness, insularity and petty nationalism (which seems to be entirely linked to the Welsh language) opens your mind only to yourself…leaving Wales trailing even further behind in an increasingly global world.”
Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) sits alongside Health Boards and Trusts to be the only Special Health Authority within NHS Wales. HEIW has a role in the education, training, development, and shaping of the healthcare workforce in Wales.
A spokesperson for the HEIW said: “The comments were made in a personal capacity and in no way a professional one. HEIW does not condone or endorse any of the comments made.”
Before a public consultation on the Welsh language, the HEIW said: “As a body committed to improving the provision of health education in Wales, we recognise the growing importance of the Welsh language in ensuring better clinical outcomes.
“This is the main motivating factor behind our desire to optimise the quality and quantity of the Welsh language services we are able to offer.
“Although HEIW is not currently required to comply with standards under the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011, we have adopted the principle established in the Welsh Language Act 1993, that, in the conduct of public business in Wales, the Welsh and English languages should be treated on a basis of equality.”