THE SNP has announced plans to secure the future of Gaelic by investing in education and exploring the creation of a recognised Gaelic-speaking area. 

The party said it will work to ensure Gaelic flourishes throughout Scotland as well as in its traditional heartlands if it is re-elected in May.

It also said it would "review the functions and structures" of Bòrd na Gàidhlig (BnG), the quango responsible for promoting the language. 

BnG has been the focus of criticism over its performance. 

The SNP said it would look into creating a recognised "Gàidhealtachd" to raise levels of language competence and encourage the provision of more services in Gaelic.

The Gaidhealtachd is the area of Scotland where people speak Gaelic and usually refers to the Highlands and islands. 

In Ireland, Irish-speaking areas have official recognition as Gaeltacht regions.

Some campaigners have called for consideration of Gaelic-speaking housing developments in Scotland, pointing to similar schemes in Ireland.

SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes previously told The Herald she would be supportive of this. 

Elsewhere, the SNP said it will encourage the creation of new stand-alone Gaelic medium primary and secondary schools across Scotland, backed by investment to increase the number of teachers who can teach in Gaelic. 

It comes amid warnings Gaelic is in crisis.

Alasdair Allan, the SNP's candidate for the Western Isles, said the party "fully recognises the massively important contribution the Gaelic tradition has and continues to make to Scotland’s rich culture". 

He said: "This commitment will be welcomed by both Gaelic and non-Gaelic speaking Scots alike and will be key to encouraging the use of Gaelic in our communities.

"We will put our money where our mouth is to encourage the creation of new Gaelic primary and secondary schools across the country with major investment to increase the number of teachers who can teach through Gaelic.

"We want to increase the range of subjects that can be taught in GME for both a broad general education and in the senior phase of secondary school. 

"That’s why we will explore the bursaries that are available to encourage conversion to Gaelic.

"The pandemic has highlighted the importance and value of e-Sgoil and Stòrlann in making Gaelic education resources available. 

"We will ensure they continue to be supported in order to help in school education, adult learning, teacher support and community learning.

"We believe there is value is creating a recognised ‘Gàidhealtachd’ to raise levels of language competence and the provision of more services through Gaelic.

"Supporting the creation of a Gàidhealtachd helps reinforce what is the position in some parts of the country already. A recognition of Gaelic as a primary language of a place.

"Through reviewing the functions and structures of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, we will explore how it can support the formal recognition of a Gàidhealtachd. 

"The review will also consider how the Scottish Government and BnG can work with other bodies that have functions in arts, tourism and heritage to explore what more they can do to help deliver faster rates of progress for Gaelic.

"In order to achieve these ambitions, we will ensure that Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s place as a centre of excellence for provision of Gaelic training is both recognised and supported, with dedicated funding to offer FE/HE courses through and for Gaelic.

"And in the next parliament we will also bring forward a new Scottish Languages Bill which takes further steps to support Gaelic, act on the Scots language and recognises that Scotland is a multilingual society.”