Cartlanna Clibe: Apartheid

A freagra faighte ag “colúnaí na cinedheighilte”

Bhí cúpla litir san Irish Times ar maidin ag tabhairt freagra ar an gcolún gránna a d’fhoilsigh an nuachtán ó pheann Kathryn Holmquist ar an Mháirt.  Thugas m’fhreagra féin anseo ar an lá….

Bhí na freagraí fiúntach agus níor chuaigh siad thar fóir, faoi mar ar chuaigh an colúnaí féin lena gcomparáid díspeagúil idir an bhónas marcanna do lucht déanta na hArd Teiste agus an córas “Apartheid” san Aifric Theas. 

Tá na litreacha le fáíl anseo.  Agus is é seo an freagra a chur mé chuig an Times mé féin, litir nár fhoilsíodh go fóill agus b’fheidir nach foilseofar é ach an oiread nó táim den tuairim go mbeidh go leor freagraí á fháíl ag Madam Eagarthóir mar gheall ar an gcolún místuama míthomhaiste a d’fhoilsigh sí ón Meirceánach, an Bean Uasal Holmquist. 

A eagarthóir,

In her ‘Give Me A Break’ column, published in the Irish Times (9 December, 2008), Kathryn Holmquist rather tritely and inaccurately compared the Apartheid system of racial segregation in South Africa with the education system in Ireland in which students who sit their exams in Irish receive a bonus mark for their efforts.

The use of such provocative and inflammatory comparisons is becoming increasingly prevalent in Irish journalism and ought to be avoided because it demeans not alone the argument, in which there may or may not be a kernel of worth, but also those who suffered grieviously under the brutal oppression employed by the Apartheid regime.

Ms. Holmquist is under the mistaken impression that the 10% bonus – and that has to be qualified too – is available for merely sitting an exam as Gaeilge and that this is an unacceptable privilege.  It is not a privilege – it’s merely the State attempting to compensate students who spend thirteen years in an Irish medium education system without access to text books or other educational resources of a similar standard to those which are offered in the English medium sector.   In my opinion, the bonus mark, which actually amounts to 10% of all marks scored up to 50% and, if a student scores higher than 50%, a tenth of the remainder*, is a very poor compensation for the work which has to be done by teachers and students to fill the gaps in many subject areas because of the failure of the State to provide for sufficient Irish language text books of an equivalent standard to those available in the English medium.   My late father was a history and geography teacher who spent hours preparing by hand such notes for his students in an era when word processors and computers were not to be had in his school – neither he nor his students considered that to be a privilege.

She rather gives the game away in her comments on the preponderance of Irish medium schools in the top echelon of ‘feeder’ schools for third level institutions in Ireland.  The reality is that all Irish medium secondary schools are open to all, irrespective of family circumstances, something which cannot be said for the state subsidised fee paying schools.  Therefore her children and the children of all parents can avail of Irish medium education – but even if they didn’t opt to go to an Irish medium secondary school, it still remains open to them to prepare for and sit their Leaving Certificate in Irish and thus avail of the bonus mark.    Parents who send their children to an Irish medium school in general do not do so so they can afford a holiday, as Ms Holmquist suggests dismissively, but because this is the best affordable option for the best education possible for their children.

Amidst all of Ms Holmquist’s illinformed diatribe about the Irish language and its place in the education system of Ireland, her one valid point could be missed.  The treatment of children with dyslexia differently to those with other special needs is wrong. If a child has a special educational need, the State should have the grace to care for the child on the basis of that need and give him or her the fair start in life supposedly guaranteed by the education system, irrespective of what language is spoken by the child.

Her ‘best argument’ for the removal of Irish as a necessary subject for the Leaving Certificate is an ill disguised expression of intolerance to Irish in the ‘multicultural society’.  Pitting one minority against others in order to bring about a system in which English is the only tolerated language is a hamfisted and crude expression of intolerance.  If she takes the trouble to visit any number of Gaelscoileanna she will encounter several children of different cultural backgrounds learning as Gaeilge without any sign of discontent with their lot.

It is indeed ironic that the article by Ms Holmquist appeared in the edition of the Irish Times which featured a supplement to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  This declaration guarantees among other things the right of free expression and the right of the parents to choose the best education for their child.   It is indicative of the double standards of the Irish Times that not one article of the supplement was written in Irish!

Is mise le meas

Concubhar Ó Liatháin

* Sin mar a bhíodh an córas marcála agus mise ag déanamh na hArd Teiste.  Gach seans go bhfuil sé abhairín difriúil anois, faoi mar a mhíníonn Seán  O hAdhmaill ina litir, ach is ionann an prionsabal agus is mór an náire don Stat gur féidir seo a rá de bharr gur beag feabhais atá ag tagtha ar sholathar na dtéacsleabhair Ghaeilge ón am ar cuireadh an Ard Teist ormsa i 1985 agus an lá inniu. 

Mar fhocal scoir, táim go laidir den tuairim gur cheart d’eagras ar nós Conradh na Gaeilge nó Gaelscoileanna gearán a dhéanamh leis an gComhairle Phreasa faoin alt seo agus, go h-áirithe, an comparáid mí-stuama agus fuath spreagúil a deineadh idir Gael Oideachas agus Apartheid. Léiriú é an t-alt seo an gá is an riachtanas go raibh teanga luaite sa chosc ar spreagadh chun fuatha atá san áireamh i gcód chleachtais an Chomhairle Phreasa: 

Principle 8 − Incitement to Hatred

Newspapers and periodicals shall not publish material intended or likely to cause grave offence or stir up hatred against an individual or group on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, colour, ethnic origin, membership of the travelling community, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, illness, or age.

Ní mór smaoineamh gur dhein an comparáid seo beag den dream a d’fhulaing faoi ‘Apartheid’ an oiread is gur dhein sé deamhanú ar an gcóras Gaeloideachais.

Gaeloideachas = cine dheighilt oideachais?

Mo rún le h-aghaidh 2009:  go sparala Dia sinn ó iriseoirí aineolacha ag tabhairt amach faoin nGaeilge a bheith á mbrú ‘siar a scórnaigh’ nó ‘Taliban na Gaeilge’ nó an ‘cine dheighilt teanga’.   Ar aghaidh linn….

Dar le colúnaí san Irish Times inniu, is ionann an ghaeloideachas agus cinedheighilt oideachais chórasach sa tír seo.  Agus is í cumas sa Ghaeilge, seachas dath an chraicinn, an deighilteoir….

San alt le Kathryn Holmquist, tá sé maite gur scannal amach is amach é go bhfuil daltaí ó ghaelscoileanna agus scoileanna Gaeltachta a théann faoi scruduithe stát ag fáil bónas 10% den iomlán mharcanna a bhfaigheann siad de bharr na scruduithe bheith déanta acu trí Ghaeilge.   Agus is ionann seo agus mí bhuntaiste do dhaltaí i scoileanna ina labhartar an Bhéarla.

The fact that children in Irish-speaking schools – some who already come from Irish-speaking backgrounds – get extra marks in the Leaving Cert is a scandal. Students in Irish schools doing their exams through Irish enjoy positive discrimination, with an advantage in the Leaving Cert of up to 10 per cent of their original result, and that puts children in English-speaking schools, from English-speaking and immigrant families, at a disadvantage.

Níl aon míbhuntaiste i gceist, ar ndóigh, nó tá lán chead ag daltaí i scoileanna ina labhartar an Bhéarla mar ghnath theanga tabhairt faoi na scruduithe stáit, go h-áirithe an Ard Teist, agus iad a dhéanamh i nGaeilge agus atá sé ag daoine i scoileanna Gaeltachta agus i nGaelscoileanna na scruduithe céanna a dhéanamh i mBéarla.  Agus nach bhfuil a fhios againn go maith gurb é sin an rud atá ag titim amach i go leor scoileanna Gaeltachta!

Anuas ar sin tá sé mícheart a rá go bhfaigheann daltaí 10% dá marc mar bhónas ar an scór a aimsíonn siad i ngach cás nó níl an bónas 10% ar fáil ach do scóranna suas go dtí 50%.  Ina dhiaidh sin, tugtar bónas 10% den marc nach bhfaigheann tú.    Sa tslí sin, ní féidir, mar shampla, marc níos mó ná 100% a fháíl.

Fiú má ghlacaimíd leis an pointe atá á dhéanamh ag an údar, an Bean Uasal Holmquist, arbh as Mheirceá dí ó dhúchas, ní mór a chur ar a súile gur bocht an chúiteamh an ‘bónas’ seo as ucht na míbhuntaistí atá ar an gcóras Gaeloideachais.   Níl a dhóthain múinteoiri ar fáil chun na daltaí a mhúineadh.   Níl téacsleabhair ar fáil i nGaeilge d’abhair scruduithe na hArd Teiste nó tá na cinn atá ann ar chaighdeán níos ísle ná na leabhair atá ar fáil don ábhar céanna i mBéarla.  

Bhi m’athair féin, suaimhneas síoraí do, ina mhúinteoir staire is tír eolais agam agus is cuimhin liom go maith an sclabhaíocht a rinne sé ag aistriú leabhair staire ó Bhéarla go Gaeilge le go mbeimís ábalta tabhairt faoin abhar a fhoghlaim.   Tá go leor leor múinteoirí ar fuaid an chórais oideachais a rinne an obair céanna, gan aon phá breise nó rud ar bith cosúil leis, ar son a ndaltaí de bharr leisce an stait ar an gceist seo.

De reir mar a léim an alt seo leis an Bhean Uasal Holmquist, eirím níos feirgí. 

In the league tables of “feeder schools” published in The Irish Times last week, seven of the top 25 feeder schools (fee-paying and non-fee-paying) were Irish-speaking, while 14 of the top 25 non-fee-paying schools were Irish-speaking. You don’t have to be able to speak Irish to figure out that if you want to give your child the best chance of getting into university and still be able to afford a holiday, you send them to a non-fee-paying Irish school, which requires living near an Irish secondary school, often in counties Cork, Donegal, Mayo or Kerry, the heartlands of Irish-speaking privilege. But you don’t have to be outside Dublin – two of the highest-scoring Irish-speaking schools are in Stillorgan, Co Dublin, where relatively privileged families make the most of the Department of Education’s 10 per cent Leaving Cert points bonus.

Is cosúil go bhfuil sí den tuairim gur scannal é go bhfuil an buntaiste seo atá á thabhairt do dhaltai ón chóras Gaeloideachais de bharr gur léir di go bhfuil sciar mhaith de na scoileanna a chuireann daltai ar aghaidh go dtí ollscoileanna agus coláistí tríú libhéal sa chóras ghaeloideachais.  Agus gur scoileanna iad nach bhfuil taillí le h-ioc iontu.

Ar ndoigh is míbhuntaiste sin di agus a leitheid, mar má theastaíonn uaithí agus a cáirde an caighdeán céanna oideachais a bhaint amach dá bpáistí, beidh orthu déanamh gan an saoire breise sin, an seachtain ag scíáil tar éis na Nollag nó an deireadh seachtaine i bPrág nó cibé.

Is cinnte go bhfuil an cheart aici, áfach, nó is buntaiste é don duine a bheith ina chainteoir Ghaeilge.  Níl mé ag caint faoi dheontaisí nó cabhair stait nó tada dá leitheid – ach tá meoin níos oscailte ag a leitheid agus éirim níos forbartha acu ná an t-é atá nach bhfuil ach teanga amháin aige nó aici.   Ach ní pribhléid í an buntáiste seo, nó is rud é pribhléid atá agat gan saothar ar bith – ach is luach saothair í an buntáiste. 

Maidir leis an chaint seo aici faoi Chorcaigh, Tír Chonaill, Maigh Eo nó Ciarraí [cá bhfuil an Ghaillimh?], croí cheantaracha faoi phribhléid de bharr labhairt na Gaeilge, is ait liom sin.  Ní chloistear an Ghaeilge ar an Dart – nó an Luas nó an Metro – sna ceantaracha seo nó níl a leitheid ach i mBaile Atha Cliath.  Sin pribhléid duit.  Ni h-é go séanaím a leitheid uirthí agus ar mhuintir BhÁC ach nior mhaith liom go gceapfadh sí go raibh an córas iompair seo tuillte aici ar aon chúis ach go dtarlaíonn sé go bhfuil sí ina cónaí i bpríomh chathair na tíre.

Not only will your child be surrounded by mostly middle-class children and get the 10 per cent bonus, but he or she will also be likely to have smaller classes, aiding performance in other subjects. Every year, the Leaving Cert students with the most As come largely from Irish-speaking schools.

This is positive discrimination, and it wouldn’t be tolerated anywhere else. Can you imagine the uproar if the Department of Education awarded an extra 10 per cent to English-speaking students doing their exams through French or Arabic of Mandarin. There is an apartheid between children who go to Irish-speaking schools and those who don’t, which is why Irish should be taken off the compulsory curriculum in secondary school and ranked with French, Spanish, German and Mandarin as a subject to choose, with no extra points. Why should learning maths, geography and home economics through Irish give anyone a better chance of getting into medicine or law? If students want to study Irish as a second or third language, then let them, but in a global Ireland where students of various backgrounds are competing, why should those from Irish schools have the advantage?

The facts speak for themselves. Students from Irish-speaking schools are more likely to get on the university course of their choice, whether it’s law, medicine or the arts.

Arís tá an cholúnaí den tuairim go bhfuil páistí aon teangacha á gcoinneáil siar de bharr na buntaisti seo atá á fháil ag páistí ‘faoi phribhléid’ san earnáil Ghaeloideachais.    Cacamas.  Sa chéad dul síos, is teanga í an Ghaeilge atá ina theanga oifigiúil náisiúnta agus mar sin tá an cheart ag an Stát, agus an dualgas ar an Stat go deimhin, bealaí a aimsiu chun úsáid na teanga a spreagadh i measc an phobail.   Níl aon pribhléid ag baint leis an teanga – níl ann ach luach saothair a shaothraítear le dua agus mura bhfuil cead ag an Stát sin a aithint, táimíd i dtrioblóid i gceart.  

Gan amhras tá páistí faoi míbhuntáiste sa chóras oideachais, ach ní eascraíonn an míbhuntáiste ón nGaeilge.  Eascraíonn éagothromais faoin mbealach a chaitear le páistí le discleicse agus mar a chaitear le páistí le riachtanais speisialta eile orthu ó theip na Roinne Oideachais aire mar is ceart a thabhairt do pháistí le riachtanais speisialta ar fud an chórais oideachais.   Ní gá dúinn ach féachaint ar an slí a caitheadh le muintir Uí Chuanacháin le fírinne an ráitis sin a aithint. Bhí páiste le h-uathachas acu agus bhí orthu troid go dtí an Chúirt Uachtarach chun cearta an pháiste sin oideachas mar is ceart, de reir mar a chonacthas doibh é, a lorg. Throid an Stat iad an sli ar fad agus chaill siad an chás sa deireadh mar chosain na breithimh ‘cearta’ an Stáit cearta oideachais an tuismitheora a rogha oideachais a fháil dá pháiste a shéanadh ar na tuismitheoirí.   

Ar aon nós, má tá pointe ar bith le déanamh ag an mBean Uasal Holmquist, is é gur cheart don Stát caitheamh le páistí le riachtanais speisialta go cothrom agus le croí mór maith, is cuma cén teanga a labhraíonn siad nó nach labhraíonn siad. 

Is ionann agus spreagadh chun fuatha an méid a deir an cholúnaí agus í ag tabhairt an cholúin chun criche. 

But the best argument of all against the compulsory learning of Irish in secondary school is that we are a multicultural society where many languages are spoken. Those who speak Irish well are not the underprivileged, they are the privileged. For whatever reason, they go to Irish-speaking schools. But they have no more right to 10 per cent extra points in the Leaving Cert than do Muslim, French or Chinese children doing the Leaving Cert through English.

Is a mhalairt d’ilchultúrachas atá á mholadh ag an cholúnaí.  Tá sí ag iarraidh, i bhfirinne, nach n-aithneofar aon chultúr ach cultúr an Bhéarla agus tá sí ag baint feidhme as argóna ar son an ilchultúrachais leis an dubh a chur ina gheal orainn. Nach bhfuil a fhios aici, mar shampla, go bhfuil na sluaite páistí ó chultúir éagsúla ag freastal ar ghaelscoileanna is scoileanna Gaeltachta, go n-eiríonn go geal leo sa Ghaeilge mar nach bhfuil an fuacht céanna acu don Ghaeilge is atá ag páistí Éireannacha atá tógtha, dar liom, le fuath don Ghaeilge ag tuismitheoirí aineolacha is dúra, fuath atá cothaithe ag aineolas mar atá léirithe ag an údar seo sna meáin cumarsáide Bhéarla. 

Is rud aineolach é comparáid a dhéanamh idir corás na Cinedheighilte – Apartheid – agus córas oideachais nach bhfuil gan locht ach ina bhfuil daoine ag déanamh a ndícheall dearcadh níos leithne ar an saol a chothú i measc ár nglúin óg.  Is úsáideach í an focal ‘Apartheid’ le caitheamh isteach i ndiospóireacht chun mothúcháin a spreagadh agus an réasún is na fíricí a chur i bhfolach.  Nach cuimhin linn na maslaí eile ar caitheadh le Gaeil i gcaitheamh na mblianta – Language Fascists/Nazis, Irish Language Taliban is a leitheid. Ach ná ligtear do leitheidí an Bhean Uasal Holmquist sin a dhéanamh.    

Tá daoine ann a dhéarfaidh go bhfuilim ag cothú leitheidí Holmquist leis an bhfreagra seo.  Ar éigean go léifidh sí coiche an t-alt is docha – agus má léann cuirfidh sí ar leataobh é mar shampla d’íonsaí eile ón Taliban Teanga!  B’fheidir é.  Ach sílim go bhfuil sé ceart agus cóir agus mar dhualgas orainn dúshlán a thabhairt do dhaoine ar bheag leo íonsaí aineolach, nach bhfuil bunaithe ar thaighde ach ar réamhchlaonta.  Tá an dualgas céanna orainn dúshlán a thabhairt dá leitheid is a bhí orainn dúshlán don chóras Apartheid, mar is ionann an dá mheoin aigne.