THE Education Secretary said it was important to “be proud” of Scotland’s national languages, as the Scottish Languages Bill was introduced in Holyrood.
The bill offers legal recognition of the Scots language for the first time as well as expanding the provisions for Gaelic, such as through Gaelic Medium Education (GME).
On Thursday, to mark the introduction of the bill, Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth (below) visited the Gaelic-medium unit at James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh to meet pupils and teachers immersed in Gaelic education.
Gilruth said she was “delighted” to be bringing the legislation forward to "celebrate" Scotland's languages.
She continued: “Gaelic and Scots are really part of who we are in Scotland. They’re part of our heritage, they’re part of Scotland’s story.
“It’s really important that we celebrate our national languages.
“I’m delighted to be bringing this legislation forward, to say we should be proud of Scotland’s languages, and that’s what this bill aims to celebrate.”
The legislation, introduced in Holyrood on Wednesday, aims to deliver on three different aspects: To strengthen Gaelic medium education, to give further powers to the Gaelic public body Bòrd na Gàidhlig, and to give support to areas of linguistic significance, such as where there is a high number of Gaelic speakers or a historical link to the Gaelic language.
“It’s fundamental,” Gilruth told The National. “This is about celebrating the profile of Gaelic as a language, and Scots, as part of our identity in Scotland.”
This comes as the Government’s Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research published on Tuesday outlined an increase in violent behaviour and misogyny in schools.
In a statement to the chamber on Wednesday, Gilruth said the Covid-19 pandemic had “exacerbated the conditions which allow [challenging behaviour] to flourish”.
Speaking to The National, Gilruth also acknowledged that the pandemic had impacted the way pupils learn, with an increase in the use of technology and digital learning.
When it comes to online language learning, Gilruth recognised that a lack of access to technology in some schools may affect pupils’ ability to learn Gaelic and Scots.
“Obviously our young people have gone through a transition in terms of their education during the pandemic,” Gilruth said.
She pointed to the digital strategy announced in the Program for Government in September, which she said would help local authorities to “promote Gaelic and Scots through online learning”.
She continued: “We will work through the digital strategy but also through local authorities to make sure there is greater equity of access.
“Some local authorities have got equity of access across the board at the current time.
“For others, I recognise that there have been further challenges, but I look forward to working with local authority partners on delivering that equity of access.”
After the introduction of the bill, parliamentary committees will now examine it and produce reports before MSPs debate it in the Chamber.
Then, MSPs will decide on the purpose of the bill, amendments will be put forward and considered, before final changes are made and a vote takes place.