Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Questions (246)

Jonathan O'Brien


246. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the progress made on the development of ERASMUS Gaeltachta under the Irish language learners scheme; the third-level institutions that will offer a semester in the Gaeltacht to their students; the number of student places per institution that will be available; the Gaeltacht areas in which they may attend courses; the dates on which these places will be available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40009/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The Deputy will be aware that, earlier this year, I  announced  a new initiative - ERASMUS Gaeltachta - worth €250,000, under which third-level students are being provided with the opportunity to live with qualifying Gaeltacht families for a full three month semester while attending a third-level course.

Under the scheme, a subsidy of €17 per day per student is payable to qualifying households who provide accommodation to participating students. This subvention, which is being provided under the terms of Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge, is the equivalent of approximately €1,428 per student.

This three-month language immersion opportunity is being directed towards third-level students:

- who have Irish as a core subject in their 3rd level programme (for example, B.A. in Irish or B. Comm with Irish) or:

- for whom Irish is not a core student subject but who require a high level of competency in Irish in order to work in professions in the public service, in particular, in which it is critical to ensure engagement with the Irish speaking community through Irish.

To date, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, NUIG, and Coláiste na hOllscoile, Corcaigh have embarked on providing courses which qualify under the ERASMUS Gaeltachta initiatiave - catering for approximately 90 students in total.  It is anticipated that up to 175 students can be catered for initially under the measure, with a view to further increasing the number in the medium-term, depending on demand.

I am satisfied that this practical measure, which represents the outworking of a commitment made in the Government's Action Plan for the Irish Language 2018-2022, will generate both significant additional benefits for the language as well as downstream economic benefits for Gaeltacht regions.  It will also go some way towards preparing students for employment in areas of the public service requiring a competency in the Irish language, thus contributing to efforts to meet the ambitious targets set out in the proposed Official Languages (Amendment) Bill.