Wales: Statement on Language Strategy

The Minister of Education (Wales) announced at the Welsh National Eisteddfod in Wrexham this week (1st August 2011) that the Welsh Government plans to publish a strategy for the development of the Welsh language in everyday life next year, but warned Eisteddfod organisers that additional funding for the event would be dependent on them producing more positive results in the promotion of the Welsh language and culture.

Minister Leighton Andrews used his speech in the Societies tent of the Eisteddfod to set out what he and the Labour Party saw to be the future of the language over the next 10 to 20 years. Minister Andrews said:

“It has always been my opinion, and the opinion of the wider Labour movement in Wales, that legislation may give you a framework, but it will not be what saves and develops the language – because you cannot legislate to make a mother speak Welsh to her children at home in Brynaman. This can only be encouraged, and nurtured.

“And it is this encouragement, this nurturing and this increase in Welsh language usage that must lie at the heart of the Welsh Language Strategy that I hope to publish early next year, as a five-year strategy that will roll over to the next Government… I am clear then that the future strategy we develop must focus on increasing use.”

Minister Andrews also questioned whether broadcasters like S4C and the BBC, were doing enough in Wales to promote the Welsh language and culture, especially in how they are responding to the needs of young people in the digital age. The Minister also warned organisers that even though the Government will support the work of the Eisteddfod financially, additional funding could only be expected with better results:

“I expect to keep working with the Eisteddfod and supporting it financially, but I need to see results, they need to show us what practices work best, what are the best ways to develop, promote and strengthen the language.

“They must show what works best, the most important thing for me is to see results not just a list of events.”

Last week the chief executive of the Eisteddfod, Elfed Roberts, warned that if further savings had to be made then jobs and activities may have to be cut. Mr Roberts said:

“Since 2004 we’ve succeeded in tightening our belt year on year -– I don’t know how much further we can go.”

The Welsh National Eisteddfod traditionally runs annually in the first week of August and is a celebration of Welsh language and culture. The event lasts for a week and can attract 160 000 visitors over its duration. The Celtic League was founded in 1961 at the National Eisteddfod in Rhosllanerugog, near Wrexham in North Wales and so this year’s Eisteddfod represents 50 years to the week since the League was founded. It is perhaps fitting that this year the Eisteddfod has returned to the Wrexham area!

This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:

Tel: 0044 (0)1209315884
M: 0044(0)7787318666

gensec@celticleague.net

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League

03/08/11

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