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Wilson's Gaelic farewell

Gaelic-medium education, one of Brian Wilson's pet subjects, received special attention in the former Education Minister's final hours at the Scottish Office.

Mr Wilson, the new number two in the Trade and Industry Department, rushed out three separate announcements before he left St Andrew's House.

He confirmed current spending of Pounds 2.7 million on Gaelic-medium education will be maintained and increased by Pounds 200,000 a year over the next four years following the comprehensive spending review. The Pounds 300,000 a year for pre-school education and Pounds 200,000 for teacher training will be absorbed into the budget.

Mr Wilson said: "These were introduced as one-off figures for the current year in support of new policy initiatives. It is further good news for Gaelic-medium education that they have now been consolidated in the review."

He also asked Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic college on Skye, to help establish a Gaelic learning centre on Islay after consultants reported favourably on the proposal. A new centre would link with the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The consultants say a target of September 1999 as initial completion date for the first phase is "not unrealistic".

Mr Wilson also announced that the Rev Jack MacArthur, former education convener in Highland, has been appointed chairman of the management committee of the national resource centre for Gaelic education which produces teaching materials. The non-salaried post is for two years.

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