An additional £4 million over the next two years will increase the number of places available in Gaelic Medium Education (GME) across Scotland to meet continually rising demand.
Minister for Languages Alasdair Allan announced the extra funding in the week that Edinburgh’s first dedicated GME school Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pairce will have its official opening.
Dr Allan said: “Attracting children to Gaelic is imperative to maintaining the language as a vital part of our culture. We have made it our goal to increase speaker numbers and preserve Gaelic as a vibrant part of our culture.
“We are already seeing good results with a rise of 12 per cent in pupils entering P1 this year, showing our strategy to encourage a new generation of Gaelic speakers and teachers is working well.
“This week the data on Gaelic speakers collected as part of the 2011 Census will be published. We know that the overall number of speakers has been in decline for some time, reflecting the fact that traditional Gaelic speakers have tended to be in older age groups. That is why encouraging a new generation of Gaelic speakers is so important to the future of the language.
“Recent research by Edinburgh University showed that the vast majority of English speaking Scots believe Gaelic is important to our sense of identity, our heritage and our contemporary culture and support Gaelic education. This is an important time for Gaelic and we must translate this enthusiasm and support for Gaelic into learning opportunities for young and old to create new generations of speakers.”
The additional £2 million per year for the Gaelic Schools Capital Fund will be available to councils to expand GME in their region and was announced by the Finance Secretary John Swinney in his draft budget on September 11th this year. The additional investment is subject to Parliamentary approval.