Armagh Harps Social Club will host a public information and discussion evening tonight (Wednesday) on the subject of Irish medium pre-school and primary school education in Armagh City and in the surrounding area.
Irish medium education is the fastest growing sector within the education system in the north of Ireland. Armagh City currently hosts a thriving Naíscoil (nursery school), Bunscoil (primary school) and an Irish medium unit within Coláiste Chaitríona or St Catherine’s college. There are also Naíscoileanna and Bunscoileanna in the neighbouring towns of Keady, Portadown, Newry, Lurgan, Crossmaglen and Dungannon. More and more parents are discovering the proven benefits of bringing up a child in more than one language, as is common practice throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Monolingualism is increasingly being regarded by more and more experts as a social and economic handicap in a globalised world.
With current demand for places in the Irish medium sector outstripping supply locally, the Irish language community in Armagh is actively considering ways in which to expand provision, in order that anyone who is seeking to provide their children with a bilingual education will have the statutory right to access that education in future. There are also many community support structures now available for parents who choose bilingual education for their children. CAIRDE Teo is an Irish language agency based in Armagh City that provides summer camps, day trips, family events, residentials and a host of other extra-curricular activities through the medium of Irish. Books, toys and learning aids in the Irish language are also available locally.
Currently, 6% of Irish-medium primary schools are within the controlled sector, 22% within the Catholic maintained sector and 72% within the other maintained sector, showing that education through Irish can be a choice for everyone. Research commissioned by the Department of Education for Northern Ireland (Deni) has indicated that Irish-medium children were more open to cultural diversity.
The choice of Irish-medium is a linguistic choice, which can be catered for within any sector. Its representative body, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, provides support to communities that express an interest in Irish-medium education. Comhairle believes that, through the establishment of various school settings that meet different community needs, education through Irish for all communities is possible.
Schooling through Irish, at its simplest, involves the delivery of the curriculum through Irish. Irish-medium education offers a system which improves children’s skills in English and Irish, making them more culturally tolerant while also providing the skills to learn further languages with greater ease. Other benefits include enhanced problem solving abilities, improved performance in English and Maths, better job opportunities, mental health benefits, social and cultural benefits and improved life opportunities.
If you would like to know more about the many advantages that bilingual education offers to children, then come along to the public information evening in Armagh Harps Social Club at 8pm Wednesday 8th June for a cup of tea and a chat.