Government prioritises spin over substance on modern languages strategy – Byrne

Published on: 15 November 2017

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne TD has criticised Minister Richard Bruton for his failure to set out a detailed policy on the future teaching of modern languages in schools.

Minister Bruton committed to publishing a detailed policy document on the issue by January 2017. However, nearly a year later, the education sector is still waiting for the Minister to publish the policy document.

Deputy Byrne said, “Ireland needs to ensure that it is ready to maintain a competitive foothold in global and European markets. This is more important now than ever before when we consider the challenges facing us in a post-Brexit world. Ireland needs a robust policy on the teaching of international languages to ensure future generations are ready to meet these challenges head on.

“Last September Fianna Fáil published extensive proposals which aim to overhaul the teaching of modern languages in schools. It recognises the importance of teaching modern languages for supporting Ireland’s ability to trade internationally, to attract Foreign Direct Investment and to take full advantage of the employment opportunities presented by multinational companies. The proposals set out in the policy document are ambitious and recognise the need to foster the teaching of modern languages from a young age.

“Unfortunately this issue seems to be well down Minister Bruton’s agenda. He committed to publishing a comprehensive policy document on the teaching of modern languages by January 2017. However it is nearly a year on and we are still waiting for that document to emerge from within his Department, assuming that it even exists in the first place.

“Minister Bruton told delegates at the TUI conference last April of the importance of modern languages, but they are waiting for him to actually lead on the issue and set out his policy proposals. All they have got in the meantime is a blizzard of press releases with plenty of ambitious statements but little substance to back them up.

“Other countries recognise the importance of achieving multilingualism and are working towards achieving this. Ireland is already falling behind on this to the detriment of future generations. It’s important for Minister Bruton to set out a robust policy on this without delay,” concluded Deputy Byrne.

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