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Irish language students hold a demonstration outside Fine Gael headquarters in February. A decision on dropping Irish as an obligatory subject will not be made until the end of 2012 at the latest. Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Government shelves decision on mandatory Leaving Cert Irish

A decision will not be made on whether Irish should remain a mandatory subject in State exams until the syllabus is reviewed.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS shelved a decision on whether to remove the Irish language as a mandatory subject for the Leaving Certificate exams until at least the end of 2012 at the earliest.

The Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn, has said that removing Irish as an obligatory subject at Leaving Cert level would not be considered until a review of the new Leaving Cert Irish syllabus has been carried out.

The 20-year strategy on the Irish Language – published by the last government and supported by the current one – includes proposals to implement “a thorough reform of the Irish curriculum and the way Irish is taught at primary and second level”, the minister explained.

A revised Leaving Cert programme has already been introduced as of last September, and the first Leaving Cert students to be examined under that syllabus would sat their exams in 2012.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment will then undertake a full review of the syllabus, including consultations with those students to see how they found the course, and then “take steps to improve the quality and effectiveness” of how Irish is taught.

A decision on whether Irish should be made an optional subject at Leaving Cert level would not be made before then – meaning a decision on whether to drop the Irish requirement would not be made until at least the end of 2012, if not later.

Fine Gael had controversially proposed to remove obligatory Irish in advance of February’s general election – prompting a Valentine’s Day protest outside the party’s Dublin headquarters by Irish students claiming the party was ‘dumping them’.

The statement from Quinn, via a response to a parliamentary question tabled last week, ironically comes on the day that Junior Cert students sit their Irish exams, with the Leaving Certificate Irish papers due for Monday and Tuesday.

Irish language students protest at being “dumped” by Fine Gael >

TD calls for Junior Cert to include compulsory oral Irish exam >

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