Loss of golden opportunity – that is the view of Dyfodol i’r Iaith on the Welsh Government’s Budget. With the Government responsible for spending £18 billion in the coming year, spending on projects to regenerate the Welsh language seems disastrously short of the need.
Dyfodol i’r Iaith has already called for capital expenditure of £200 million to be shared between five Welsh counties to solve the crisis of residential and second homes. The Government’s current proposals to the Arfor fund and to build social housing do not come close to need.
Dyfodol i’r Iaith has also asked for priority to be given to teacher training and to teaching the language to teachers. There is no indication, says Dyfodol i’r iaith, that the new budget is going to give the necessary boost in this area.
Heini Gruffudd, Chair of Dyfodol i’r Iaith, said, “The need to transform the housing market in our more Welsh-speaking communities has long been clear, and the Government has accepted this. This budget will unfortunately continue the crisis.”
“The Government also knows that there is a crisis in the provision of staff with adequate language skills in primary and secondary schools. IRALE in the Basque Country received a budget of £25 million a year to teach the language to teachers, and some 1,000 teachers a year were taught the language in full-time courses over a quarter of a century.
“If we are serious about transforming the language into Welsh schools, there must be an equivalent programme to that of the Basque Country.”
Dyfodol i’r Iaith has welcomed the deal struck between Labour and Plaid Cymru. The organisation is pleased to note that a commitment to ensure the growth of the Welsh language has again been confirmed and that the document includes several steps in the right direction regarding Welsh language policies.
Heini Gruffudd, Dyfodol’s Chair said:
“It is good to see that the agreement includes a number of measures aimed at regenerating the Welsh language and that this, it would appear, is part of the overall vision for the next three years.
We welcome confirmation that the problem of second homes is being taken seriously and, likewise the measures regarding the expansion of Welsh language education and ensuring that Welsh history receives its due attention within the Curriculum.
There are also measures which are key to supporting the growth of the language: Acknowledgement of the importance of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and the National Centre for Learning Welsh, for example, in addition to developing the Arfor project and a new emphasis on media and culture that is specific and appropriate to Wales. We also welcome the intention to expand and facilitate the Welsh Language Standards and the conservation of Welsh place names.
In welcoming all these proposals, we must however ensure that the document represents much more than fair words and goodwill. We must continue to insist that all of the measures which offer support to the language remain high on the agenda and are adequately funded and resourced.”
The language organisation, Dyfodol i’r Iaith has praised the Welsh Language Commissioner’s 5-Year Report as a comprehensive and perceptive document, which nails the challenges facing the language presently and towards the future.
Heini Gruffudd, Dyfodol’r Chair said:
“The Commissioner’s message is appropriate and timely, as Wales and the Welsh language continue to cope with the effects of Covid. The Report illuminates and confirms our own worries by placing the Welsh language in its widest social and economic context and putting the emphasis firmly on its day-to-day use. We insist that The Welsh Government take the contents of this Report seriously and act accordingly.
We agree that extending Welsh medium education is essential to the growth of the language and it is good to note that the Commissioner calls for action to remedy the shortage of teachers who are qualified to teach through the medium of Welsh. Without this fundamental move, there can be no basis for achieving the Government’s ambition regarding language growth.
We are very grateful to the Commissioner for facing and outlining the language situation in all its complexity.”