By Heini Gruffudd, Chair Dyfodol
The recently published 2011 Census figures for the Welsh language are but one of many indicators of the language’s health. Some people have responded in a chorus of wailing. While this reaction may not be entirely misplaced, a superficial analysis should immediately dispute some of the findings.
There is a very unlikely percentage of 40.3% for Welsh speakers among the 5 – 15 age group. We know from other sources that around 21% of primary school children attend Welsh medium primary schools, and that these schools are the only ones which genuinely present pupils with a full range of bilingual skills. Parents’ view of what is an ability to speak Welsh is very subjective, so in spite of the general desire for this to be the case for a child, we must erase around 85,000 from the total number of Welsh speakers. Nevertheless, the demand for Welsh medium education in less Welsh speaking parts of Wales is around 40%, and the unlikely percentage of 40.3% can be construed as part fact, part aspiration.