The next five years will be crucial in achieving the goal of a million Welsh speakers and doubling the daily use of the language by 2050. Significant action must be taken to ensure that the targets are met in terms of Welsh-medium education and that there are increased opportunities and rights to use the language. These are the Welsh Language Commissioner's comments in response to the publication of the Welsh Government's Work Programme for the Cymraeg 2050 strategy.
Deputy Commissioner Gwenith Price said: 'It is encouraging to see the Government publishing the work programme so early in the new Senedd term, and that the emphasis is on maintaining the momentum. Over the next five years, we will continue to work alongside the Government to benefit Welsh speakers, and to protect and promote the vitality of the language in our communities.’
One of the areas where the Welsh Government and the Commissioner needs to work together is on setting Welsh language standards. These are the duties placed on public organisations to use and consider the language, ensuring quality and consistency in Welsh language services. The most recent set of standards came to force in June 2018.
Gwenith Price said: ‘To enable the Commissioner to set standards, the Government must prepare standards and introduce regulations, and we have introduced a programme for them to consider for taking this work forward as soon as possible, and have already started to discuss this work with them.’
The Cymraeg 2050 strategy recognises education and training as the primary means of achieving the target of one million speakers. It sets ambitious targets for increasing the proportion of learners leaving statutory education who are able to speak Welsh.
Gwenith Price added: 'Although there have been some commendable developments over the last five years to introduce the Welsh language to more children and young people through the education system, there is no evidence of any significant progress. As the Government recognises, bold action must be taken to achieve the desired growth. This means developing a strategy to train enough teachers who can teach through the medium of Welsh, and increasing the proportion of the curriculum taught through the medium of Welsh in bilingual and English-medium schools. We look forward to contributing ideas and recommendations on how to achieve this when the Government consults on the Welsh Education Act.'