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‘We cannot continue to deny 80% of our children the ability to speak Welsh’ – Cymdeithas

27 Oct 2022 2 minute read
Language group Cymdeithas yr Iaith has held a Symposium in Cardiff Bay to discuss its own draft Welsh Language Education Act.

We need to ensure that we stop denying 80% of Welsh children the ability to speak Welsh, language group Cymdeithas yr Iaith has said.

As the Welsh Government prepares its proposals for a Welsh Language Education Bill, Cymdeithas yr Iaith held a symposium in Cardiff Bay today, 27 October, to discuss its own draft Welsh Language Education Act.

Catrin Dafydd on behalf of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Education Group said: “Today we heard an international perspective from Paul Bilbao Sarria from the Basque Country who said that the only solution to ensure confident Welsh speakers is Welsh-medium education. 

“All schools in Wales can be placed on a path to reach this goal over time. The Welsh Language Education Bill that the Government is preparing has the opportunity to ensure that we stop denying 80% of Welsh children the ability to speak Welsh. The Welsh language is an essential skill and no-one should be left behind.

“The child and its future should be the main consideration for any educational decisions. The Welsh Government insists that there needs to be a choice between Welsh-medium education and English-medium education, but 80% of children have never really had a choice. For us, giving everyone the ability to speak Welsh is a matter of social justice.”

‘Right to Welsh’

Keith Bush, Fellow of Welsh Law who drafted the Welsh Language Education Act for Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said at the Symposium: “It appears to me that we’ve reached a place where it is no longer sustainable to treat Welsh as a ‘minority’ language. It has now developed the status of a national language – one of two languages that every child in Wales needs to be able to use effectively.

“Cymdeithas yr iaith has challenged anyone with a different vision to explain how they justify denying the majority of children in Wales, for an indefinite time, their right to the ability to have their education in Welsh.”

The symposium’s chair, Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones, said: “We need to set an ambition in the education system today so that we can plan to reach our ambitions as a country by 2050. Research – including at an international level – is vital in order to achieve this.”

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Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 year ago

Why is there all this messing about with ‘choice’? This is Wales. Welsh is the national language and so that should be the language of nursery and primary education right across the country. Kids will pick up English easily from parents, TV, etc. and for those that want it English could be offered as EFL in secondary school.

Do it now. Stop having English lanhuage nuresery and primary schools. (No I am not a Welsh speaker but it just seems so obvious that I cannot undertsnad why the Welsh Government has not acted yet.)

Cameron Wixcey
Cameron Wixcey
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Very simple reason, you would alienate the 80% who don’t speak Welsh fluently. Basically say the your language of English isn’t worth learning, or the very least that is what would be spun. Also logistically we don’t have enough Welsh speaking teachers. Would you conscript every Welsh speaker into education to make sure we had enough teachers?

1 year ago
Reply to  Cameron Wixcey

As well as alienating, you would be disadvantaging those from (the majority) English language backgrounds who would, in effect, be plunged into education in a language they don’t understand and would perhaps never become as competent in as they are in English. Parents would be unable to engage with their child’s education, help with homework. How would parent’s evenings work? Communications from schools? Cymdeithas are living in some weird, parallel universe. Are they spooked because current policies aren’t proving effective in increasing the number of fluent Welsh speakers? How does this work in, for example, Newport, where Welsh isn’t even… Read more »

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