Gaeltacht Irish language courses canceled for second summer in a row


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Gaeltacht courses were canceled this summer, for the second year in a row, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

In a consultation between Mná Tí, which hosts students, course operators, and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media, the former expressed “considerable concerns in health and safety “for families and local communities.

Gaeltacht Minister Jack Chambers said a decision had been taken not to continue Irish language courses in the summer of 2021 and that work was underway to develop a “stabilization package” for the sector.

Mr Chambers said that after the consultation process with the groups involved, the Mná Tí and the colleges themselves, he recognizes their concerns about having students in their homes and communities given the situation. current public health.

Mr Chambers said: “We are aware of the consequences of this decision for the economy of the Gaeltacht which depends on the summer courses.

“For this reason, we will assess the impact of this development on the sector with a view to advancing an appropriate stabilization plan.”

Katie Halpin-Hill, Irish language manager at the Secondary School Students Union, said it was a shame that classes couldn’t take place this summer.

She said: “The students are going to miss what can be a very valuable experience from a linguistic point of view, but also from a point of view, for many students it is the first time they have left home.

“I guess, listen, a whole cohort of students is going to miss out on a very valuable experience … but at the same time, you know that public safety and student safety absolutely has to come first.”

Mr Chambers acknowledged the disappointment that will be felt by “many young people who have been looking forward to participating this year”.

He added: “Some Irish colleges will be offering digital online courses in 2021 and the department is also supporting a number of digital initiatives to enable young people to continue to develop their language skills in the summer months and beyond. . ”

The Minister said he was convinced that a solution could be found which will guarantee the continuation of courses in 2022.

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Sylvester L. Goldfarb