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Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative Abolished

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound on 08/12/2011. Tags: Teachers News Primary School News Educations And Politics

text re imageResponse by Tanya Flanagan, National Coordinator, Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative' to this weeks budget proposal to abolish the 'Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative' 

The budget announcements included a proposal to abolish the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative with immediate effect. As you can appreciate, we are absolutely devastated by this announcement which comes at the end of a year when we have been congratulated at every review meeting with the DES in terms of how we have continued to maintain and deliver excellent services while achieving SIGNIFICANT efficiencies.
We support modern languages in over 550 schools nationally with a core team of just 6 people. We provide training, resources and school-based support as well as funding 300 visiting teachers who deliver the programme in schools nationwide….all within a budget of under €2 million, and not the €2.5 million erroneously quoted in the budget documents.
In terms of policy, we are already years behind our commitments under the Barcelona Agreement and the Lisbon Strategy – these agreements called for systems to be in place to facilitate early language learning of at least two foreign languages by 2010 .….Even more incredibly, all EU countries, including Ireland, ratified recommendations in NOVEMBER 2011 in which we have pledged to “step up their efforts” to implement the Barcelona Agreement!!! Please see -
As recently as October the Royal Irish Academy published their National Languages Strategy which called for “the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative (to)be integrated into the mainstream curriculum, as strongly recommended by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (2005) and the Council of Europe Policy Profile (2008) document, rather than being limited to extra-curricular time and to a portion of schools”. A Dept. of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation report also quoted in the RIA strategy and states that “the widespread but erroneous perception that ‘English is enough’ militates against the kind of plurilingual ambitions and achievements common in non-anglophone EU member states. The most recent strategy and action plan issued by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation argues that ‘the main challenge for Ireland…is to become a truly multilingual society, where the ability to learn and use two or more languages is taken for granted and fostered at every stage of the education system and through lifelong education”.
In such difficult economic times, how can this decision be justified??? Over 14 years of expertise will be lost to the system and a whole generation of our children will be placed at an even greater disadvantage as they try to compete for jobs with our fellow Europeans. This decision will result in the only children accessing modern language classes being the privileged classes who can afford to pay for them – a return to the situation of 20 years ago. It will also result in over 300 more teachers on the live register.



(12-12-2011 14:03)

Such a crazy decision! This project should not be abolished. On the contrary, it needs to be expanded to ALL primary schools in Ireland and modern languages should be made an integral part of the primary curriculum if our children, our businesses and our economy is to compete in a global market. It is said that "language is the light of the mind" - it exposes us to new cultures, new horizons and helps us better understand English. In essence it is how we learn to learn. And i truly believe that is what the MLPSI has achieved and is capable of building on yet further if the project is allowed to continue.


(08-12-2011 22:05)

So short sighted. This is really terrible. Such a tiny amount of money and so much good. I would say that this was not a thought out cut at all.

prabhakara Rao

(17-01-2012 04:20)

This is against UNECO Recomdations and EU committments to encourage multilingualism


(09-12-2011 12:33)

An online petition has been set up for people to register their support for keeping the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative - visit to add your support


(02-03-2012 22:29)

It's a pity that the 'Modern Languages' project has always so assiduously ignored the presence of Irish in the curriculum. All pupils in the state already learn a second language (Irish) but the project has ignored this in their limited perspective and self interest. Their insistence on 'Modern Languages', which as a curricular area does not include Irish, is disingenuoius. This project has been flawed from the start in their snobbish anti-Irish language elitism. The well-established and relatively successful teaching of Irish should be seen as the bridge to positive language awareness and attitudes.

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