Catalonia, Basque Country, Andalusia, the Canaries and Asturias protest against recentralising education
The governments of Catalonia, the Basque Country, Andalusia, the Canary Islands and Asturias, which are the only Autonomous Communities that are not run by the governing People's Party (PP), have protested once again against yet another recentralising measure of the Spanish Executive that violates their exclusive powers on Education. The representatives of these 5 Autonomous Communities, which together represent almost 50% of Spain's population, left a meeting organised by the Spanish Minister for Education, José Ignacio Wert, held to present a new centralist and imposed measure in this field: from now on, the final exams of the obligatory education cycle and the baccalaureate (A-levels) will be drafted by the Spanish Government, which will make sure they are "homogenous" for the whole of Spain, as Wert said. Far from being anecdotal, the measure means subjects such as History of Catalonia, Catalan Geography and Catalan Language and Literature will not be included in the exams or will be treated as second-class subjects.
Barcelona (ACN).- The governments of Catalonia, the Basque Country, Andalusia, the Canaries Islands and Asturias, which are the only Autonomous Communities that are not run by the governing People's Party (PP), have protested once again against yet another recentralising measure of the Spanish Executive that violates their exclusive powers on Education and the school system management. The representatives of these 5 Autonomous Communities, which together represent almost 50% of Spain's population, left a meeting held in Madrid organised by the Spanish Minister for Education, José Ignacio Wert. The meeting was held to present and impose a new centralist measure in this field, which was finally only supported by the regional Ministers of the PP. From now on, the Spanish Government will be the institution drafting the final exams of the obligatory education cycle and the baccalaureate (A-levels), instead of the Autonomous Communities, and it will make sure they are "homogenous" for the whole of Spain, as Wert highlighted. Such a measure is to be added to a wide Education Reform that takes away power from the Autonomous Communities in this field and attacks Catalonia's school model and the knowledge of Catalan language by the overall population. Wert considered the protest to have shown "a lack of consideration" towards him and the rest of the regional representatives. However, according to the protesters, the Spanish Minister rejected temporarily stopping the measure’s approval and discussing it with them, and therefore they decided to quit the meeting.
The recentralising measure is far from anecdotal because it means that if the exams are homogenous for the whole of Spain and drafted by the Spanish Government, topics such as History of Catalonia, Catalan geography and Catalan language and literature will not be included or will be treated as second-class subjects. This means that pupils may not study them or go on to the next level without basic knowledge of these areas. In addition, parents will be able to choose the language in which their children take the exam, which goes against Catalonia's linguistic immersion model. This model is being strongly criticised by Spanish nationalists, but it has been praised by several international organisation as it guarantees that children totally master both Spanish and Catalan and therefore are perfectly bilingual. This model guarantees equal opportunities, as all children know the two official languages in Catalonia.
Furthermore, the measure approved this Tuesday is also another initiative in a wider recentralisation strategy undertaken by the Spanish Government since 2011 in many areas such as Education, Taxation, Commerce, Labour Relations, Energy, Transport, and Social Care, among others. The Spanish Government is using the economic crisis as an excuse and, by unilaterally imposing such recentralisation, is undermining the Constitution from 1978 and the last three-and-a-half decades of decentralisation. In addition, such recentralisation is also framed by a strong Spanish nationalist ideology, which also calls for cultural and linguistic homogenisation, going against language diversity. And this attitude brings very bad and dark memories to many Catalans and people from other parts of Spain.
The Spanish Government rejected debating the measure
The Catalan Government's Deputy Minister for Education Policy, Joan Mateo, attended the first part of the meeting as the representative of the Education Minister, Irene Rigau, who stayed in Catalonia to participate in the tribute ceremonies held after the killing of a teacher on Monday in an extremely rare case of violence at a Barcelona high school.
After he left the meeting, Mateo addressed the press and stated that the Catalan Government "cannot accept the decree because of its internal content and also because of its style, which is clearly invasive, controlling and centralising". Furthermore, he added that "it is an absolutely unfair decree and does not provide [the education system] with the necessary resources to guarantee either equity or equal opportunities".
Mateo explained that Catalonia, the Basque Country, the Canaries, Asturias and Andalusia had "proposed the hibernation or the postponement of the approval of the two decrees and the negotiation of their content". However, according to him, the "Minister said that he cannot stop or slow down anything, but that he needed to go ahead and therefore, he did not want to enter into any debate with us". Mateo complained about the Minister's attitude, which he feels "shows an absolute lack of sensitivity about a subject that causes us great concern, particularly when we represent half of Spain's school population".