Third-level students are being encouraged to become activists for the Irish language
under a new scheme ‘Gníomhaí Gaeilge’
A new scheme, Gníomhaí Gaeilge, has been set up by Conradh na Gaeilge in collaboration with the Union of Students in Ireland and the Higher Education Authority, that will see students in Ireland using Irish regularly and proudly while active in the Irish language movement.
The new scheme is being supported by the Higher Education Authority through funding totalling €150,000 over three years.
The new scheme has been welcomed by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD.
“This is a really positive step driven by our education and student leaders. I have recently discovered a new grá for the language and am embarking on a new journey to learn Irish. I believe those of us in leadership positions have a duty to be custodians of our national language.”
“But we also have to ensure the next generation of leaders have the ability to engage with the language and promote it too. That is why this partnership between the HEA, USI and Conradh na Gaeilge will be a fundamental cornerstone in preserving our national language into the future.”
CEO of the Higher Education Authority, Dr Alan Wall, said the Authority is delighted to partner with Conradh na Gaeilge and the USI in this new approach to preserving, promoting and increasing the usage of the Irish language in Higher Education Institutions.
“We recognise that Higher Education Institutions have an important role in influencing the whole of life language choice and use among students. Gníomhaí Gaeilge has many sustainable features that should result in a positive outcome,” he said.
Conradh na Gaeilge and the Union of Students in Ireland have been collaborating with the Irish Language Societies and with the Irish Language Officers in third level colleges to develop, strengthen and expand them since 1998.
While significant progress has been made, they now want to build on this strong structure.
President of Conradh na Gaeilge Paula Melvin added:
“We are excited to develop the new Gníomhaí Gaeilge mentoring, training and awards scheme in third level colleges in collaboration with USI and with the support of the HEA. We believe that it is important to recognise and support students in their work to promote and engage with the language in their colleges. We believe also that this recognition will stand to them when they seek employment in the future and introduce them to the wider Irish language speaking community, if they are not already part of it.”
The Union of Students in Ireland VP for Gaeilge, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, said the new scheme will help to normalise the use of the Irish language as part of everyday life in higher education.
“By training and awarding students for their use of Irish as part of college life, they will be encouraged to use it more in their future. Normalising its use is vitally important to achieve this momentum,” she said.
The main objective of Gníomhaí Gaeilge is to build on the development, strengthen and increase the number of Irish Language Societies and Irish Language Officers over the last 20 years.
Each student, Irish language society and Students’ Union taking part will be allocated a mentor to support them in their work plan that will be agreed at the start of the year. There will also be Gníomhaí Gaeilge Awards based on the progress of these work plans at the end of the year. In addition there will be individual Gníomhaí Gaeilge Certificate’s for active students on the scheme.
Training workshops will be organised several times a year to equip students/officers with additional skills.