With the assembly elections ahead of us, the beginning of 2016 is set to be a busy time for lobbying, and it is essential that we communicate the message of our Manifesto to the parties and their candidates. It would be terrific if our members and supporters could contact their local candidates with our message, and we very much hope that you will take this opportunity to do so.
We present below a letter template, summarising the main priorities for you to use and adapt…
As campaigning for the Assembly elections gathers pace over the coming months, I write to you as a member of the lobby Group, Dyfodol i’r Iaith to outline what I believe to be the priorities for establishing a firm foundation for the Welsh language over the coming five years.
I believe that a fundamental change of policy direction is required in relation to the language. That we need to move the emphasis away from status and language rights to increasing the number of Welsh speakers and creating practical opportunities for learners and those who are fluent to use the language easily within their day-to-day lives. This would include the use of Welsh at home, in the workplace and in social situations.
In addition to securing language rights in relation to official bodies, we must regard Welsh as a natural and informal medium. The language needs to be treated positively; as something to be promoted rather than enforced. I firmly believe that fostering confidence and pleasure in the use of language is the way to ensure its growth.
In order to achieve this, some areas require specific attention, and I would press for eight key steps to be taken in order to make a real difference to the future of the Welsh language;
- Extend the availability of Welsh-medium education; aiming to ensure that 50% of seven-year-olds are in Welsh medium education by 2030
- Develop Welsh for Adults schemes, with the emphasis on the workforce and supporting parents
- Establish a network of Welsh Language Centres across Wales to cooperate, coordinate and inspire Welsh language activities
- Promote Welsh-medium face-to-face services for public and private sector customers, particularly in shops and social areas
- Develop Welsh workplaces in public service and administration and in business
- Designate Areas of Special Linguistic Significance where the Welsh language would be an essential consideration in planning and housing policy
- Ensure a flourishing future for S4C and the Welsh mass and social media, and provide two Welsh-language radio stations
- Establish a Welsh Language Administration with sufficient expertise within the Welsh Government to:
- Formulate a comprehensive and consistent strategy
- Place the responsibility for implementing the strategy on an arms’ length National Language Agency, which would have the freedom to innovate and inspire
We know that these steps are effective. The above recommendations are based upon what has been achieved within the Basque Country, which saw an increase of almost 200,000 Basque speakers over a period of twenty years.
It goes without saying that if this is to be achieved in Wales, it will require due priority and sufficient funding, and I would therefore call for a rejection of the Welsh language cutbacks which were recently outlined.
I would be most grateful if you could give your consideration to these points, and I would also appreciate your comments upon them,