French Government Attack on the Breton Language

The French Minister of Education has decided that DIWAN secondary schools in Brittany will now only be allowed to provide less than three hours a week of Breton. The Diwan Language schools were established in the 1970s and are playing a key role in the revival of the Breton language. Only six Celtic languages are spoken in the world today: Breton, Cornish, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Manx and Welsh. For centuries there has been a systematic campaign to destroy the native languages of the Celtic lands. Not least in this has been the suppression of Celtic language of Brittany (Breizh), endangered due to decades of suppression at the hands of the French educational system. The present attack has to be opposed. Below is a recent article printed in CARN (number 178)  magazine the journal of the Celtic League. 


French Education Secretary Against Regional Languages Once Again
Each new French Education Secretary appointed is used to put forward a new reform and the current one is no exception. This time the aim is to give youths between sixteen and eighteen more choice and will lower the weight of science a little. The results of this reform, which will involve those who will sit the Baccalaureate exam (end of secondary school) in June 2021 for the first time, is uncertain because those who are strong at mathematics will always choose the sciences and literature won’t attract pupils as` much. Well, let us wait and see… But there is a problem for regional languages such as Breton because Michel Blanquer, the incumbent Education secretary is overtly against them. Consequently, dead languages such as Latin or ancient Greek will bring in marks in the Baccalaureate exam, but not the regional languages. This is something new. It is a shame, and the COVID-19 measures do not allow protesters to take to the streets to show their anger at the decision.


Kevre Breizh, which represents all the associations acting in favour of Breton culture and the language is protesting, askingfor ‘equality with the ancient languages’ Tanguy Louarn, its representative said. And he wants more. He would like to see Breton taught to all children for at least one hour per week in West Brittany, which was a totally Breton speaking area. This is something that local authorities also want saying that ‘This
is one of the means to transmit the language and a way to get new speakers.’ But this is to no avail because of course the Education Ministry remains deaf to the demands.

Even worse, until now the Departement of Finistere (one fifth of Brittany) paid itinerant teachers for the youngest pupils to learn Breton if there was a demand from schools. About 8,000 children, not attending bilingual schools, were discovering the language in this way. This will no longer be possible under the new law because if this happens less time will remain to study English. It is not difficult to predict what the choice of parents and head teachers will be.
JY Le Goff”

Posted by Alastair Kneale DOI Celtic League (21st February 2021)

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