A CONFERENCE to consider the Welsh Government’s vision of a million Welsh speakers in an international context was held in Cardiff’s Millennium Centre on Tuesday (Oct 4).
The conference aimed to provide a platform for experts, practitioners and stakeholders to exchange knowledge on the different facets of language planning and multilingualism in Europe.
The keynote address was delivered by Patxi Bazterrikka, Vice-Minister for the Basque Language, who spoke about the work by the Basque Autonomous Community over the last decades which has fostered an increase in Basque speakers over the last 20 years.
Assisted by initiatives that encourage the learning and speaking of Basque (Euskara), the language has remained relevant and important to the Basque community, both in Europe and worldwide.
Professor Rob Dunbar, Chair of Celtic Languages, Literatures, History and Antiquities at the University of Edinburgh, spoke on Regulation and Language Rights: the Canadian perspective.
A native of Canada, he has been involved in Gaelic language development for almost 20 years and was involved in the development of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 and the creation of BBC Alba, Scotland’s Gaelic digital television service.
There was a panel discussion with Menna Jones (Antur Waunfawr), Laura McAllister (FAW Trust); and Iwan Roberts (Hacio) on how the Welsh language can be normalised in various contexts.
The event was part of the Welsh Government’s consultation on its Welsh language strategy, launched by the First Minister and Minister for Welsh Language at this year’s Eisteddfod, which aims to grow the number of Welsh speakers to one million by 2050.
Alun Davies, Minister for Life Long Learning and Welsh Language, who will also address delegates on the Government’s work, said: “Euskara has proven itself as a master of reinvention, a language of resilience, a dual representative of personal choice and communal solidarity. Like Welsh, it represents more than the right to speak its words; it represents the right of people to choose their own identity and ultimately write their own history. It is the essence of ‘being Basque’.
“In Wales, we do have the will and tools necessary to encourage the Welsh language to thrive, evolve and keep up with the modern world and we need to put them to their best use.
“Monolingualism is a thing of the past; everyone is looking towards speaking at least mother tongue plus one. In Wales we are fortunate to live in a bilingual society – we have to make the most of this advantage that we have.”
Poison arrow frogs at New Scientist Live
ABERYSTYWTH UNIVERISTY scientist Dr Karen Siu-Ting discussed poison arrow frogs at New Scientist Live last Thursday (Sept 28).
Dr Siu-Ting is an IRC ELEVATE-MSCA Co-fund Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University.
Her research into poison arrow frogs featured as part of ‘Ask a Biologist’, hosted by The Royal Society of Biology.
An evolutionary biologist from Peru, Dr Siu-Ting specialises in amphibians and combines field work in the Amazon rainforest with laboratory and computational analyses to address biological questions.
She is currently working on a project on poison arrow frogs between Aberystwyth University and Dublin City University.
Apply for six-month traineeship scheme
IF YOU’D like to earn as you learn hands-on skills to prepare you for a career in practical conservation or estate management, apply now for Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Skills in Action traineeship scheme.
The project, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future scheme, will provide two six-month salaried apprenticeships with the National Park Authority’s Ranger and Warden Teams.
Skills in Action Project Coordinator for Pembrokeshire Coast Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Tom Iggleden said: “The successful candidates will be learning the skills and experience that are essential to be successful in obtaining employment within a highly competitive sector.
“The main duties of the placement will include practical hands-on work-based experience in conservation and estate management.”
The six month traineeship will see the successful applicants learn a wide variety of skills including traditional hedgelaying and modern conservation methods that are essential to the work of the National Park Authority.
This is an extension to the original three-year project which has helped many of the 15 previous trainees gain employment.
The closing date for applications is October 24 with interviews to be held on November 6.
Application packs are available from the National Park Authority’s website atwww.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/jobs or by contacting contact Joanne Morgan by calling 01646 624856 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Committee concerned at £12.7m error
A £12.7M alteration to the cost of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill has been described as concerning by a National Assembly for Wales committee.
In the original figures submitted alongside the Bill the Welsh Government identified savings of £4.8m over a period of four years if the Bill was passed.
But the estimates were challenged by children’s charity SNAP Cymru which claimed the Welsh Government had misinterpreted figures it had provided concerning disputes and resolution services. The Welsh Government admitted the error and revised the figures from the original saving to a cost of £7.9m – a difference of £12.7m.
The Finance Committee asked the Welsh Government to delay the financial resolution on the Bill, the mechanism by which government gains support to spend the money enacting the law and the government agreed.
“A £12.7m swing from a saving to a cost is very concerning, as it shows a government which doesn’t fully understand the figures it quotes,” said Simon Thomas AM, Chair of the Finance Committee.
“It also throws into doubt any future costs connected to Bills which come before this committee as we are left wondering whether the government has done its sums right.
“We are grateful to SNAP Cymru for highlighting the inaccuracies and acknowledge the steps taken by the Minister subsequently, but we will need further reassurance that such errors will not happen again.”
The Bill’s aim is to improve the quality of support available to children with additional learning needs through a person-centred approach which would identify needs early on and make sure the right support, monitoring and evaluation was put in place to help them.
The Finance Committee welcomed the actions taken by the Welsh Government to address the situation. But Members were concerned and surprised that inaccuracies as significant as this were raised and that SNAP Cymru was not consulted on the final figures before they were published.
The Committee acknowledges that revisions have since been made and the Minister’s assurances that the revised figures are robust, however, it is concerned at the need to have made this level of changes to the original costings.
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