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Vast amounts of money earmarked for use within Welsh medium education have not been touched by a number of Welsh councils, it has emerged.
The £1.4bn Welsh Government pot has been largely used on English language schools – raising calls for a review of school funding in Wales.
The money has been allocated to councils under the 21st Century Schools and Education Capital Programme. The programme was launched in 2011 to update and re-build school and post-16 college buildings. But just 30% of the funding pot has been spent on Welsh medium schools.
Among Wales’ 22 local authorities, six have spent little or no money on Welsh medium schools, according to the campaign group RhaG (Parents for Welsh Medium Education).
Blaenau Gwent and Flintshire have spent none and earmarked none, while Rhondda Cynon Taf has earmarked just 0.5% of its £160m allocation from the programme on Welsh language education. Monmouthshire has spent just 1% of its £93m.
The figures do not show how much of the money allocated to councils under the programme, aimed at updating school and post-16 college facilities, has been spent – only the intention.
Jumelage. Une semaine au pays de Galles
La semaine dernière, un groupe de Gouesnousiens du jumelage Gouesnou-Brecon s'est rendu au pays de Galles pour la traditionnelle rencontre bisannuelle des familles. Quarante-quatre personnes, dont seize de moins de 18 ans, ont participé à ce périple qui a débuté mardi, par une traversée nocturne, de Saint-Malo vers Portsmouth.
Les jeunes Gouesnousiens du jumelage ont participé à la chasse aux oeufs organisée, dimanche, par le musée national d'histoire de St Fagans, au Pays de Galles.
Dès l'arrivée le mercredi midi, à Brecon, le programme était chargé, mais très agréable, avec une succession de visites guidées de lieux choisis pour leur caractère historique, architectural ou touristique, tels le château de Chepstow, sur la rive de la Severn, à la frontière avec l'Angleterre où se trouve le National botanic garden of Wales.
Les visites se sont poursuivies jusqu'au samedi, journée qui est traditionnellement réservée à la visite de Brecon et au « shopping local », et qui se termine, le soir, par le banquet, toujours très convivial.
Dimanche, sur le chemin du retour, les enfants ont participé à la chasse aux oeufs de Pâques, organisée par le musée national d'histoire de St Fagans, tandis que les adultes visitaient l'institution.
Après une traversée retour de nuit, les voyageurs gouesnousiens sont revenus, lundi, dans la commune, des souvenirs plein la tête et parés à accueillir les Gallois, l'année prochaine, en Bretagne.
Twinning. A week in Wales
Picture caption : The young people from Gouesnou took part in the Easter egg hunt organized on Sunday at t St Fagans National Historical Museum.
Last week a group of people from the Brecon-Gouesnou Twinning went to Wales for the traditional biennial meeting with the families. Forty-four persons, including sixteen under 18, took part in the trip which started on Tuesday with an overnight crossing from St Malo to Portsmouth.
Easter egg hunt at St Fagans
As soon as they arrived, on Wednesday, they had a busy but very pleasant program me, with a series of guided visits to places that had been chosen for their historic, architectural and touristic interest, such as Chepstow Castle on the banks of the Severn, near the English border, or the National Botanic Garden.
The visits went on until Saturday which is traditionally dedicated to visiting the town of Brecon and to shopping, and which ended with the dinner, very friendly as usual. On Sunday, on the way home, the children participated in an Easter egg hunt organized at St Fagans Museum, while the adults were visiting the place.
After an overnight crossing, the travellers arrived home on Monday, with their heads full of memories, and ready to welcome the Welsh People next year in Gouesnou.
Accueil protocolaire à la Mairie de Brecon
Visite guidée de Brecon
Visite guidée de la cathédrale
Tout un programme !
Passage délicat à Llandeillo
Un moment toujours apprécié, le pique-nique
National Botanic Garden (une fleur)
National Botanc Garden
Un breton de Plougastel à Brecon
Le cadeau des gouesnousiens
Les échanges entre écoles continuent...
Les environs de Brecon
Chasse aux oeufs de Pâques à Saint Fagans
Ils ont tous gagné !
An Irish language act has become one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the Stormont talks process.
Speaking to the BBC NI's The View, Alun Davies appealed to opponents of an act.
"I would say embrace the language, embrace the culture, embrace it as part of your identity," he said.
"When we have taken the politics out of the language, we have all benefited."
Mr Davies, who is a Labour assembly member in Cardiff, added: "I am a unionist and speak Welsh. It is a part of my cultural experience and it is a part of my future, my British future.
"I don't need to choose between being British or Welsh, I can have both."
In 2011, Welsh became an official language in Wales and it meant for the first time it could not be treated any less favourably than English.
The measures also introduced a new position of Welsh language commissioner, whose job was to promote the language and penalise those who failed to comply with the changes.
Since 2015, all new road signs in Wales are in English and Welsh.
The measures introduced in 2011 placed requirements on government bodies to publish documents in both languages.
The Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri Huws, told BBC Northern Ireland that any discussion about creating a bilingual society must be based on mutual respect and honesty.
She said the parties in Northern Ireland need to be clear about what they want and what they think is achievable.
"Certainly mythology creates fear and I think one of the most important things is to get rid of any myths," she said.
"You are trying to create an energetic bilingual community - in order to do that you need to be able to talk to each other, share experiences and pull down the fences."
Some Irish Language campaigners want a commissioner with powers like Ms Huws.
However, there are words of caution from Northern Ireland-born academic, Prof Diarmait Mac Giolla Chriost.
He is a professor of Welsh at Cardiff University and said the idea of a commissioner needs to be thought through.
"It can have certain benefits, but the office has to be created designed with the particular tasks of the office in mind," he said.
"Clarity on that is absolutely essential and I am not sure that the different actors that are engaged with the Irish language agenda in Northern Ireland at present have got that clarity as yet," he said.
Suzy Davies, a Conservative assembly member who speaks English and Welsh, also thinks the role of a commissioner needs to be examined closely.
"If you are going to have a language commissioner to oversee how policy works then focus on the promotion and the benefits of being bilingual, rather than the insistence that certain rules and regulations have to be followed," she said.
So is enforcement the wrong approach?
Colin Nosworthy, a Welsh language campaigner with the group Cymdeithas yr Iaith, insists that cultural change must be backed by law.
He told The View: "You need legislation to guarantee rights for those people. You need basic fundamental rights guaranteed by law."
The differences between the debate in Wales and the debate in Northern Ireland about languages is stark - in Cardiff there is a political consensus but in Belfast there is a stalemate.
A potential Irish language act would guarantee Irish was given the same official status as English.
That would lead to measures like Irish being used used in court and the language being used in all assembly debates.
There could also be widespread use of Irish by all state bodies, including the police, and the appointment of an Irish language commissioner to ensure the language guidelines are adhered to.
The Democratic Unionist Party and the Ulster Unionist Party have both made it clear they have no issue with people speaking Irish, but they do not support an Irish language act.
Both parties say an act would be too expensive and should not be a priority.
The Alliance Party supports the creation of a comprehensive languages act.
Sinn Féin and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) say an act would create equality for Irish speakers.
Plaid Cymru's Sian Gwenllian said a compromise is possible if parties work together.
"It is different in Northern Ireland because you have got two distinct cultures there anyway," she said. "But I think it is a matter of showing respect. Respect to each other, mutual respect."
The Welsh experience shows that over time dialogue created a political consensus.
However, as the talks at Stormont continue there is little sign that when it comes to Irish, politicians are ready to speak the same language.
Château de Clisson (Bretagne)
The Council has drawn up a Vision for the Welsh Language:
Councillor Huw Jones, Cabinet Lead Member with responsibility for the Welsh Language, said: