Critics of Gaelic-medium education often decry it as serving “the middle class,” but the headteacher of Glasgow Gaelic School/Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu says that’s not true.
In a recent article in Scotland’s The Herald newspaper, Donalda McComb, said 15 percent of the Gaelic-medium school’s pupils come from neighborhoods classed as the poorest in Scotland, though 17 percent come from wealthy neighborhoods.
“Some 19 per cent of our school population are eligible for free school meals and every year that is increasing,” McComb told The Herald. “By now we should be over the perception of Gaelic as for middle class families. … “We encourage all families from the local area and beyond so that parents know what is ahead and it is unfair if people still see us like that.”
The school, which had 33 pupils when it was established in 2006, now has 343 students.
Youth organization and charity Young Scot wants to interest more young people in learning and using Scottish Gaelic. The group launched a national campaign last month that will provide a variety of services, resources and information online in Gaelic on topics from managing money to puberty.
“We know developing language skills is a great way to strengthen career prospects available to Scotland’s young people,” Ruairidh Hamilton, Gaelic Development Officer at Young Scott, said in a statement.
“This project is a really exciting way for Young Scot to give Gaelic speakers the resources that they need and to showcase the benefits of adopting the Gaelic language in everyday life,” he said. “We want young people to have easy access to advice and support that can help them achieve their future ambitions.”
The group, which has 675,000 members aged 11 to 26 in Scotland, has published information in Gaelic on several topics on its website, including a “Simple Guide to Learning Gaelic” and a section on “Cothroman Gàidhlig: Gàidhlig Opportunities.” It also offers discounts on books and travel and rewards for completing activities, such as writing a biography in Gaelic.
There’s growing demand for opportunities to learn and use Gaelic among young Scots, said the organization. Young Scot also wants to encourage members to pursue career opportunities through Gaelic. A 2014 survey estimated the Gaelic language is worth almost £150 million to the Scottish economy and offers career prospects in industries ranging from tourism to education.
The national campaign was launched at the Young Scot head office in Edinburgh, where first-time speakers and young Gaelic enthusiasts took part in an interactive Q&A with a panel that included representatives from the Scottish Parliament. The event highlighted the benefits of young people learning the historic and culturally rich language in the modern world.