The number of students learning Gaelic in the first year of the national exams fell by 21 per cent, while the number of pupils passing the exam fell by more than 25 per cent.
This prompted Highlands & Islands (including Moray) MSP, Rhoda Grant to ask Fiona Hyslop at Culture, Europe and External Affairs Questions yesterday in the Scottish Parliament, what the Government were doing to promote Gaelic?
Fiona Hyslop said the Government made a significant contribution to Gaelic education, Gaelic arts and to organisations such as Bòrd na Gàidhlig as well as TV channel BBC Alba. The Government through Creative Scotland had given £125,000 for creative arts in Stornoway and the Western Isles on 10 June.
In an exchange, Rhoda Grant said: “The Minister will be aware that Gaelic culture and heritage is passed down in poetry and song. To access this we need to be able to speak and understand the language.
"There has been a marked drop in the number of pupils choosing Gaelic as a language which has led to a fall in the number of students gaining a qualification. What are the Scottish Government doing to ensure that the education system is providing the education and skills required to access our culture and heritage?"
Fiona Hyslop advised that that question should be directed toward her Education colleagues as this session was for Culture, Europe and External Affairs Questions only.
Rhoda Grant speaking after the session in Parliament, said: “Dr James Scott’s analysis of the new exams describes the decline in Gaelic under the SNP as significant given all the money that has been invested in this area.
“ For the last three financial years around the £20 million mark has been spent on Gaelic and now we learn that there are is a drop of about 25% in the take up of this language and of those sitting it this year nearly a quarter failed to pass it.
“ If the Government are serious about making sure that we have an education system that is providing the education, the skills and the training that our young people need, then there needs to be an urgent review of the new exams system and also a look at why there are less pupils choosing Gaelic as a language in the first place”.