Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Language Teaching.

Thursday, 11 February 1988

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 377 No. 8

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68.

Mrs. Hussey: Information on Gemma Hussey  Zoom on Gemma Hussey  asked the Minister for Education her views on whether the present allocation, of more than seven times the financial and teaching resources to English and Irish than to modern continental languages by her Department, is unsatisfactory in view of the impending full economic integration of the EC by 1992.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Irish and English as the two national languages are naturally studied by almost all pupils. They are both compulsory subjects at junior cycle and Irish is compulsory in the senior cycle. On the other hand, modern continental languages are optional subjects. In the event, they have achieved very high participation rates. In junior cycle approximately 170,000 study a modern continental language as compared with about 207,000 studying Irish and English. The figures for senior cycle are approximately 67,000 and 100,000, respectively.

My Department, as Deputy Hussey will well know, do not allocate resources to particular subjects: the material and human resources involved in any subject area are determined by the number of pupils taking the subject. It is therefore quite misleading to say that the Department of Education allocate to English and Irish more than seven times the financial and teaching resources they [2027] assign to modern continental languages. It is disingenuous to include expenditure on the provision of English and Irish at primary level to show an overall disproportion between spending on the national language and on foreign languages.

Mrs. Hussey: Information on Gemma Hussey  Zoom on Gemma Hussey  Is it not the case that the Department of Education insist that all students at second level study Irish until leaving certificate, if they remain at school?

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Yes, it is.

Mrs. Hussey: Information on Gemma Hussey  Zoom on Gemma Hussey  That is the answer.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Deputy Hussey, who was Minister for Education for three years, knows quite well the answer to that question.

Mrs. Hussey: Information on Gemma Hussey  Zoom on Gemma Hussey  Why did the Minister not answer the question?

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Deputy Hussey presided over the Department of Education.

Mrs. Hussey: Information on Gemma Hussey  Zoom on Gemma Hussey  Is the Minister happy with that?

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Was Deputy Hussey? She presided over the system of education which I am very pleased also to further, particularly the role of Irish on our curriculum. I notice that, out of office, in typical Fine Gael fashion, Young Fine Gael are now proposing that we dispose of Irish as it is dispensable. I noticed the report in “Tuarascail” in The Irish Times of yesterday's date. Might I also say that I note the PD's draft — whatever it is — constitution——

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  Constitution.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  ——which takes the emphasis off the role of Irish.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I call Question No. 69, the last question.

[2028]Miss Quill: Information on Máirín Quill  Zoom on Máirín Quill  Wrong, wrong. Níl móran Gaelige ag an tAire.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  The Minister would go down very well in Moore Street.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  I know where Deputy Farrelly belongs.


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