§ Mr. O'DONNELL
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland (1) whether, seeing that Irish is taught in about half the national schools of Ireland, steps will be taken at once to compel the training colleges to devote such time to the teaching of the language as its importance demands; and whether, if only 5 per cent. of the teachers who finish their course of training are qualified to teach the language, the Board are satisfied that they are endeavouring to meet the demand that exists for teachers having a knowledge of Irish; and (2), what is the cause of the delay in putting into force the rule made some years ago by the National Education Board stating they would require candidates for the training colleges in the year 1911 to pass in two languages; whether this delay is due to the opposition of those members of the Board who are afraid that Irish would thus be scientifically and thoroughly taught before and during their course of training to the future teachers of the country?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Commissioners of National Education cannot insist on the teaching of a language, in addition to English, in the training colleges so long as candidates for training are not required to qualify in a second language at the entrance examination. The Commissioners would like to make a second language compulsory, but cannot do so until they are in a position to afford facilities to candidates for acquiring a second language by paying extra fees for instruction in Latin, French, or German in national schools. The additional expense which this would involve has so far been deemed an insuperable difficulty. Irish is, therefore, for the present an optional subject at this examination, and also in the programme for training colleges. The Commissioners are, however, endeavouring to meet the demand for teachers having a knowledge of Irish by granting aid to special colleges for the instruction of teachers in that language.