Written Answers. - Exemptions from Study in Irish.

Batt O'Keeffe

Question:

220 Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the fact that under the current scheme for exempting students from study of Irish at primary level, pupils with a mental handicap, pupils with average ability and pupils with above average ability, may be exempted from the study of Irish if diagnosed with a specific learning disability; if her attention has further been drawn to the fact that in contrast pupils who are slow learners, representing a significant proportion of the school population, cannot be granted exemptions irrespective of learning disabilities in acquisition of basis literary skills; the reason for this inequity; and the plans, if any, she has to enable slow learners to be on par with other categories of pupils. [19253/95]

I wish to clarify for the Deputy that the only formal scheme of exemption from Irish in primary schools is in the case of children who have been educated outside the State up to age 11.

The primary school curriculum is child centred and the approach to teaching Irish or indeed any subject must, therefore, take account of the ability and capacity of the individual child. In practice this means that in schools catering for children with mild, moderate, severe or profound mental handicap there is, in general, little or no teaching of Irish.

My Department is currently reviewing the circumstances under which a total exemption from the study of Irish might be granted to individual children in primary schools. This is with a view to issuing a circular to schools before the end of this school year which will aim to make the position at primary level consistent with the position at second level which was revised in 1994. At second level exemption from Irish for children with specific learning difficulties is now permitted in certain circumstances.