In the recent budget, a proposal was announced to abolish the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative with immediate effect. This incredibly worthwhile initiative supports modern languages in over 550 schools nationally with a core team of just 6 people, providing training, resources and school-based support as well as funding 300 visiting teachers who deliver the language programme in schools nationwide, all within a budget of under €2 million.
The proposal to abolish the initiative comes at a time when commitments agreed to under the Barcelona Agreement and the Lisbon Strategy, which stated that systems would be in place to facilitate early language learning of at least two foreign languages by 2010, have already fallen some way short. Incredibly, all EU countries, including Ireland, ratified recommendations as recently as November 2011 in which it was pledged to “step up efforts” to implement the Barcelona Agreement.
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.’
By abolishing the programme, over 14 years 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.
Encouragingly, following reaction to the budget proposal, it has recently been announced that the initiative will continue to the end of the current school year which is very encouraging news. The MLPSI team hope to put together a strong case for continuing the initiative beyond that.
Please watch this video link which captures what is at stake with the Minister's decision to abolish the MLPSI programme. If you would like to support the MLPSI in their efforts to ensure the initiative continues, please sign the petition to register your opposition to the budget announcement.