620,000 is probably the maximum number of Welsh speakers by 2050, according to a discussion paper by Dyfodol i’r Iaith. Although the growth of Welsh schools and improving the teaching of Welsh in English schools would contribute to the numbers, the goal of one million will be far from being reached.

Even if the growth of Welsh education doubles and other plans succeed, the paper suggests that 750,000 Welsh speakers is the most hopeful outcome.

The paper states that there is a need to invest much more extensively in the Welsh language in the early years, in recruiting staff and in developing intensive Welsh learning courses.

If the current aim of establishing 23 new Welsh language schools and 25 additional Welsh classes by 2033 continues, Dyfodol i’r Iaith claims that 28% of primary school children will be in Welsh medium education by 2040. The Government’s target was to have 30% in Welsh medium education by 2030.

Heini Gruffudd, Chair of Dyfodol i r Iaith, said “It is clear from education statistics, and numbers who learn Welsh as adults, that much more extensive investment is needed to have any hope of approaching the million.

“We need to make the teaching profession attractive once again, and we need to plan a comprehensive programme of learning Welsh on intensive courses for prospective teachers, and for playgroup staff.”

Dyfodol i’r Iaith will request a meeting with the Government based on the discussion paper, asking for specific targets on how the million will be reached.

“The important point,” says Heini Gruffudd, “is that credible and achievable targets are set in order to ensure solid growth, rather than throwing somewhat optimistic figures into the air.”

Dyfodol i’r Iaith’s view on the Welsh Government’s Budget – a golden opportunity lost

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.”