The Education and Culture Committee has broadly welcomed a wide-ranging plan to promote Gaelic but has concerns about its overall strategy and priorities.
In a report published today, the Committee has responded to the draft National Gaelic Language Plan 2012-17, which is currently being consulted on by Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
The Convener of the Education and Culture Committee, Stewart Maxwell MSP, said: “We welcome the Bòrd’s draft Plan, which is an ambitious one. However, its full and effective implementation will require greater focus and coherence, along with close partnership working between the Bòrd and the bodies that will be responsible for putting it into practice.
“The Committee is concerned that the Plan is so wide-reaching and broadly focussed that it is currently difficult to identify an overall strategy and to determine the most important priorities.
"We recommend that further thought be given to establishing what the key priorities for the Bord are between now and 2017 and how these are to be achieved, particularly in the current financial climate.”
Under the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, Bòrd na Gàidhlig is required to prepare and submit to Scottish Ministers a national Gaelic language plan, which must include proposals as to the exercise of its functions under that Act. In preparing the plan, the Bòrd is required to consult the Parliament.
The draft National Gaelic Language Plan 2012-17 was published on 4 October 2011 and is open to consultation until 5 January 2012. The Plan aims to carry forward the previous Plan’s vision of a sustainable future for Gaelic as a “healthy, vibrant language, increasingly used, valued and respected in a modern multicultural and multilingual Scotland”.
The three overarching aims which inform the Plan are:
- “arresting the decline in the overall number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland by increasing the number acquiring the language”
- “expanding the range of situations in which Gaelic is used, in line with the Gaelic Language Act’s key principle of equal respect for English and Gaelic”
- “helping speakers of Gaelic, both learners and native speakers, to develop their competence in the language and their confidence in using it, and ensuring that the language itself continues to be healthy and vibrant”.
The Plan’s “headline target” is to attain stability in the number of people speaking Gaelic by raising the rate at which new Gaelic speakers become fluent to “replacement level”, namely the level at which the loss of mostly older Gaelic speakers is balanced by the growth of new speakers.
The Plan’s Executive Summary sets out a range of proposals in pursuance of the headline target and aims, including:
- strengthening the passing on of Gaelic from one generation to the next in the home
- expanding, and developing the effectiveness of Gaelic-medium education (GME), with the aim of doubling the number of children and young people entering GME each year, within the lifetime of the Plan
- expanding, and developing the effectiveness of, Gaelic-learner education at all levels
- increasing the use of Gaelic in the home, education, community and workplace
- developing the Gaelic arts, media and heritage sector
- enhancing the ability of the language to cope with an increasing range of uses
- creating the environment and infrastructure needed to support these developments in order to ensure that they become part of normal provision
- inclusion of these outcomes, as appropriate, in statutory, voluntary and community Gaelic Language Plans and in Single Outcome Agreements.
The Plan is broken down into the following six themes:
- Education and Learning
- Arts, media and heritage
- Corpus planning.