Schools are being invited to compete for thousands of pounds in funding being made available by a charity that supports the promotion of the Irish language.
Taca is making available £15,000 for non and underfunded Irish-medium nurseries.
Taca, which means ‘support’ in Irish, was established in Belfast 15 years ago to support the emerging Irish-medium sector.
Since then, it has raised in excess of £800,000 which was given to struggling Irish projects throughout the north.
Last year, nursery schools in Armagh, Castlewellan, Ardoyne, Strabane and Draperstown shared £10,000 prize money from a new competition run by the charity.
The prize money has been upped to £15,000 this year and five successful schools will each receive £3,000.
The competition is open to naiscoileanna in the nine counties of Ulster.
Schools are being encouraged to write to Taca outlining how a grant would help them enhance the experiences of the children through play, learning, music, physical activity and art and/or enhance the Irish-language ability of the children.
“This is the second year of our small grants programme, Ciste na nDeontas Beag,” Taca manager Paid O Cianain said.
“Even with recession etc, we are increasing the fund by 50 per cent. Why? Because the Irish-medium pre-school sector is crucial.
“It’s the starting point for Irish-medium education at all levels and yet, despite being crucially important, the sector is poorly funded. We know that this money will make a significant difference to the Irish-medium pre-school sector.”
Mr O Cianain said that the money in the Taca fund came from donations from 300 subscribers, who contribute monthly, as well as money raised from the sale of scratch cards and the income from collection boxes in shops and small businesses.
Irish-medium schools funding body Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaiochta welcomed the increased funding.
“This investment in our children’s education comes from the pockets of ordinary people who are making a statement that the Irish language is important to them and should be nourished and supported,” Pilib O Ruanai said.
“That Taca is increasing its fund at a time when economic circumstances are so dire is a reflection of their commitment to Irish-medium schooling and their positivity that the sector is growing and that more and more parents will choose Irish-medium schooling.
“That’s a view that we share.”
TACA welcomes application via email or by post from all naiscoileanna in the nine counties of Ulster.
– Application forms can be obtained at firstname.lastname@example.org or from Paid O Cianain, Taca, An Chulturlann, 216 Bothar na bhFal, Beal Feirste, BT12 6AH. Applications must be received by November 9.
By Simon Doyle Education Correspondent of the Irish News