Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language
Today’s census figures are of course disappointing and not what we wanted to see.
Census 2021 shows us one snapshot of what’s happened over the last ten years. We’ll look at those results in detail alongside all the other statistics and research that’s available to us.
I’ve often said that Welsh isn’t just something I speak, it’s something I feel, and I feel more and more people feel that the language belongs to them. The key is changing those feelings into language use.
We’ll take time to examine the data carefully, in particular the figures relating to 3-15-year-olds. COVID-19 meant that 2021 was an extremely uncertain time, with many people concerned about their children’s Welsh language abilities, children were out of school, and it may be that we are seeing this concern reflected in the way they reported their children’s use of Welsh.
The National Survey for Wales shows an increase in people saying they speak some Welsh. This contrasts with the census figures released today. This is also something we will look at carefully.
I’ve previously said that I’ll review our statistical trajectory in light of the census data to look at what more we can do to support people to speak more Welsh in their daily lives. As part of this, I’ll want to talk with people all over Wales in the New Year. But we remain absolutely committed to our aim of a million Welsh speakers and doubling the number of us who use Welsh every day by 2050.
The census shows us what has happened over the last ten years up to 2021. Cymraeg 2050 has been in place for less than four years of that period, and much of that time was affected by COVID-19. We’ve got good reasons to be optimistic about the next decade. Cymraeg belongs to us all in Wales. Today, we see more children in Welsh-medium education, more opportunities to learn Welsh, and greater pride in our language and our identity than ever before.