Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has described as “extremely regressive and short-sighted” the decision to cut the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative (MLPSI).  The initiative has been in operation to great effect since 1998 following its launch by Deputy Martin when he was Minister for Education.

Deputy Martin said: “I am appalled by the decision to shut down this initiative.  Thousands of children have benefited from this scheme over the years learning Spanish, which is spoken by half the world’s population, French, German and Italian.  The initiative has been a fantastic way of developing language learning among young people. 

“The Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative has helped bring about greater diversity in the language capacity of students and all experts recognise that it is much easier for students to develop another language skill at a young age.  The initiative involves introducing Italian, Spanish, German and French into 5th and 6th classes.  As we all know students can develop a love of languages in their school years which they will carry with them through education. 

“The Government’s cut to this scheme is extremely regressive and short-sighted.  It does not align with the country’s economic and educational agenda and should be reversed immediately.  I introduced this scheme in 1999 and it has been recognised by the Council of Europe as being extremely forward looking. 

“There are approximately 250 teachers working across the country on this scheme who were given no warning whatsoever that this scheme being cut.  I understand the co-ordinator of the scheme found out able the decision on the news. 

The MLPSI has displayed the following message on their website-

Notice to MLPSI schools:

Following the announcement in the budget on Monday to abolish the MLPSI, we regret to inform you that as yet we are not in a position to answer queries as we are still awaiting information from Schools Division Financial in the Department of Education and Skills.

Deputy Martin concluded: “In 1997 I said that this initiative would ‘foster positive attitudes to language learning through the use of active learning approaches including drama, songs, and games and by promoting an awareness of being European among the pupils.’  I am delighted to say today that it did and the Government has made the wrong decision to close this programme down.  I am calling on the Taoiseach and his Government to reverse this decision immediately.”