Following Ieuan Wyn Jones’s comments in his book on his political career, Dyfodol i’r Iaith calls again for the establishment of an arms’-length Body to plan the future of the Welsh language.
According to Dyfodol i’r Iaith, extensive areas require urgent attention. The Government seems to be increasingly aware of the need for action on housing and the economy, the need to develop local communities, but implementation is lacking
Heini Gruffudd, Chair of Dyfodol i’r Iaith, said, “The lack of holistic planning is clear. The Welsh-medium education targets are becoming increasingly inadequate, there is a clear lack of funding to develop Welsh language learning for adults and in the workplace. The programme to teach Welsh to teachers is insufficient, with talk of introducing 60-hour courses, where 600-hour ones are needed.
“The establishment of an arm’s length body, with permanent specialist staff, who will be able to create a complete ongoing programme, to be accepted by various Government departments, is long overdue. Such a body would be able to give creative direction to language planning in Wales, with an emphasis on families and the community. It will be able to promote effectively and freely, and create plans over a long term. With intelligent regulation, and working with the Government’s Welsh Department, it will be possible to create robust conditions for the prosperity of the Welsh language.
“We look forward to discussing this with the Government, which, in all good faith, is slow in driving things forward.”
Dyfodol i’r Iaith has called for a national discussion on how to ensure that the needs of the Welsh language and racial equality can be harmonised and promoted. This is in response to the recent report on the opportunities provided by the Arts Council of Wales and the National Museum Wales for black people and people of colour.
In the press, particularly the English press, the report’s conclusions were reported as being an indictment of the Welsh language, as if language requirements are invariably a barrier to equality and diversity within these sectors.
Heini Gruffudd, Dyfodol’s Chair said:
“The press’s interpretation of this report was provocative and erroneous, suggesting that it is not possible for a black person or person of colour to speak or learn Welsh. We know, of course, that this suggestion is both offensive and nonsensical and that many more appropriate and flexible opportunities to learn the language are needed.
Promoting the Welsh language and ensuring racial equality is not a matter of choice or prioritisation; both must go hand in hand if the Welsh language is to flourish and be enriched by becoming the medium for diverse experiences.
Neither is the Welsh Government free from this fallacy. They have rightly decided to include the history of black people and people of colour within the National Curriculum, but have not acknowledged the need to learn about Welsh history. Once again, this is not a matter of either / or. History is key to our understanding of the present, and without the specific context of Welsh history, the history of black people and people of colour in Wales is deprived of the framework which is essential to our understanding of that history.”
A recent report by the Welsh Anti-Racist Union concludes that the procedures and policies of the Arts Council for Wales and National Museums Wales are fundamentally racist and place barriers to the participation of black people and people of colour in the arts and cultural activities in Wales. Such a report is timely and important and seeks to address inequality within two areas that can only flourish through encouraging a diversity of perspectives and experiences.
It is galling to note however that these conclusions have been presented and reported in way that confirms the fallacy that no black person or person of colour can or would want to speak the Welsh language. Even worse is the implication that the interests of two minority groups (black people and Welsh speakers) must be pitted against each other, without acknowledging that this is a false dichotomy, The Welsh language is a skill which can be learnt: black people and people of colour across Wales already speak it and more importantly, there should be acessible and inclusive opportunities for all to learn it.
The irony of this necessary report is that it has led to the media focusing solely on the Welsh language as being a barrier to equality, while ignoring the centuries of unjust ideology which is totally unrelated to the efforts to win civil rights for the Welsh language and its speakers.
This suggests an urgent need to initiate a far-reaching discussion on how to balance and integrate race equality (and all other equality strands) with the needs of the Welsh language in public life. It is frankly heart-breaking that it is currently easier to scapegoat other minorities than to challenge the status quo.