The Minister of Education is withdrawing supplementary funding from primary schools to teach languages tomorrow. This decision is ludicrous, for many obvious reasons – you need to learn languages young; you need languages to trade (and create jobs); you need languages to open your mind to other ways of seeing and experiencing things. The evidence is clear cut.
However, his excuse is even worse. He is having to withdraw the funding to “protect front line services”.
The Minister has just funded an Irish language school against advice. I supported this, precisely on the basis that languages are good for young people. But it is not a “front line service”.
The Minister has just, yet again, recommended 600 teachers be trained in Northern Ireland (more than half in an inefficient, segregated environment), when we need no more than 400 (in an efficient, integrated environment). So, not a “front line service”.
The Minister continues to stall on mergers, over-spend on bureaucracy and put obstacles in the way of efficiency (not least integration), all of which take from “front-line services”.
So let’s hear less of this “front-line services” garbage. He is trying a cheap but, in the long term, serious cut to pay for a few pet projects, none of which add up to the best future for our young people.