Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has expressed his dismay at the announcement that the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn intends to follow through on his decision in Budget 2012 to abolish the Modern Languages in Primary School Initiative (MLPSI).
 
Deputy Martin comments, “This is hugely disappointing news and a retrograde step. I believe this decision demonstrates a lack of understanding on the Minister’s part in relation to the positive and complementary role that languages can play in developing literacy skills among primary school children. Given the progress being made and the cost-effectiveness of the programme, it amounts to act of vandalism in the primary education sector.
 
“This decision comes in the same week that the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment published three research reports to support the development of a new language curriculum at primary level. The NCCA report refers to the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative and recommends the introduction of an integrated language curriculum to ensure language skills are transferred effectively from one language to the other, whether that is English, Irish or another modern language.
 
“The report states ‘when children develop literacy skills in Irish, English or another language, they are not just learning how to read and write in a particular language. They are also developing a common underlying proficiency that enables the transfer of literacy skills and learning strategies to other languages’. The report’s recommendations clearly show the folly of Minister Quinn’s approach to language learning and the MLPSI.
 
“I would urge the Minister to listen to the NCCA and to ensure we have an integrated language curriculum where language learning supports the development of literacy skills across all languages. It is clear from the NCCA’s research that there is no justification for abolishing this hugely important and cost effective programme.”