Primary school language funds must be restored
The education minister likes to claim his department is an "economic department", yet he has a peculiar way of showing it. His recent, short-sighted decision to withdraw supplementary funding from language teaching at primary level will be a significant economic blow if not immediately overturned.
Economic growth and the creation of jobs can only come about through innovation, export and trade. This is why Stem is so important, but also languages.
As job opportunities become inevitably less dependent on unsustainable level of public sector employment, we will need to be in a position for others to buy our products and services, and we will need to speak their language.
As German Chancellor Willi Brandt once said: "If I am selling, I will speak your language, but if I am buying you need to speak mine."
The best time to learn languages - regardless of which - is early childhood. That is why the majority of countries start at age seven and why the supplementary funding for languages in primary schools was introduced.
The education minister must restore the funding for language learning at the earliest possible age for the good of our children's future job prospects.
IAN JAMES PARSLEY
Newtownabbey, Co Antrim