Rising popularity of Gaelic sees Bòrd na Gàidhlig funding scheme for Language Development Officers oversubscribed by 220 per cent
Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s 2021-22 annual report has revealed popularity for Gaelic continues to grow after a new scheme to fund Gaelic Development Officers was oversubscribed by 220 per cent – resulting in the allocation of £500,000 of funding to 21 organisations.
The new scheme is designed to extend the number of Gaelic officers in the island and rural communities and in towns and cities.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig funds a range of organisations who employ development officers, and additional funding from Scottish Government allowed delivery of a new funding scheme open to third-sector organisations who want to develop their Gaelic provision.
The scheme was so popular that it received 30 applications, worth in excess of £800k, compared to an original budget of £250k.
In light of this demand, Bòrd na Gàidhlig agreed to allocate additional resources, double the initial budget, to the fund. As a result, 21 organisations are able to employ Gaelic officers, including Comann nam Pàrant Port Righ and Culture and Heritage and Arts Assembly of Argyll and Isles’.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig has also helped fund the introduction of the new SpeakGaelic platform, designed to support further learning of the language.
SpeakGaelic, funded and developed in partnership between Bòrd na Gàidhlig, MG ALBA, BBC and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, was launched in October 2021 as a multi-faceted learning brand, offering the most comprehensive approach to learning Gaelic in a generation. SpeakGaelic offers users the option of face-to-face classes, self-guided online learning, and media content through a variety of platforms – or all three at the same time.
SpeakGaelic is just one of a number projects supported or established by Bòrd na Gàidhlig over the past 12 months, with the return of the #Cleachdiaigantaigh designed with many delivery partners to support those in Gaelic education.
In addition to £4.1m of funding distributed over the past year to 136 organisations, Bòrd na Gàidhlig has also worked closely with 67 public authorities on Gaelic language plans which support Gaelic in the workplace and public life, including five public authorities developing their first plans.
These Gaelic plans are the building blocks which aim to give the language prominence across the country, increase opportunities for using Gaelic and contribute to its normalisation.
Through work with public authorities and Gaelic language planning, Bòrd na Gàidhlig has also increased Gaelic medium resources in the bodies that protect and enhance the environment, such as NatureScot and Forestry Land Scotland.
According to the annual report, the Bòrd received a total Grant-in-Aid allocation of just over £5.6 million – the financial allocation Bòrd na Gàidhlig is required to operate within by Scottish Ministers.
Of that total, £1.7 million covered core running costs, while £2.4 million went to general Gaelic development funds – including community funding for people, projects and groups – and £1.4 million towards the Gaelic Language Plans Implementation Fund.
Mairi MacInnes, Chair, said Bòrd na Gàidhlig is keen to build upon the growing interest and demand for the language’s development.
She said: “Developing and supporting Gaelic – whilst dealing with the fall-out from the pandemic, its impact on individuals and families, communities, and public bodies – has remained our core purpose.
“World Gaelic Week demonstrated effectively the phenomenal increase in interest in using and learning Gaelic during lockdown. The number of learners through SpeakGaelic demonstrate the potential of what can be achieved.
“We continue to stress the importance of the message that Gaelic belongs to the whole of Scotland and we are also aware of the international interest in our language and culture.
“The increased demand for Gaelic across the country presents both an opportunity and a challenge – the language can grow and begin to stabilise but this requires significant additional resourcing.”
Chief executive Shona MacLennan highlighted that continued support for Gaelic speakers is be central to Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s work.
She said: “Support for Gaelic speakers – whether they have acquired Gaelic in their family, in GME, or are adult learners – is the purpose of BnG’s work. We fund a range of organisations who employ development officers to progress the work required and additional funding from SG enabled us to deliver a new funding scheme open to third-sector organisations who want to develop and embed their Gaelic provision. It is vital that we continue and grow, to maximise our impact across all corners of the country.”
Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s audited annual report has also been issued, with all quality indicators fully met and no recommendations made.
Mairi MacInnes said: “We welcome the findings of the new audit report, which confirms the significant progress we have made and will continue to ensure good goverance across the organisation. We will continue to follow guidance and best practice to ensure that we constantly evolving and progressing the organisation to wider benefit the development of Gaelic.”
The Annual Report can be read here.