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Constitutional Court agrees to consider legality of new Catalan immersion legislation for schools

Government and Parliament proposed new policies to protect Catalan language by avoiding 25% Spanish quota in schools

A primary school class in Sant Martí de Riucorb's school
A primary school class in Sant Martí de Riucorb's school / Oriol Bosch
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Madrid

October 26, 2022 03:40 PM

October 26, 2022 05:23 PM

The Spanish Constitutional Court has agreed to consider the legality of the new Catalan language immersion legislation for schools, it was announced on Wednesday afternoon.

The court will study the issue of unconstitutionality raised by Catalonia's High Court over the new decree that was greenlighted by the Catalan government on May 30. That legislation countered a judiciary decision mandating a 25% Spanish quota in schools, with a decree in which "not applying" such a percentage strictly is explicitly stated. 

According to the legislation which was passed in an extraordinary cabinet meeting, the use of languages in classrooms should depend on the sociolinguistic situation of each school and its pupils, and not a "homogeneous" plan obliging all schools to have the same amount of hours in each language.

During the summer, the High Court confirmed that it was impossible to implement the ruling by Spain's Supreme Court from November 2021 as the Catalan government and Parliament approved a new regulation.

The parliamentary law was also passed with the intention of protecting Catalan in schools, considering it the working language in classrooms, with Spanish named as a "curricular" language.

Those political forces that supported the new law found consensus by saying that Spanish will be used "according to the linguistic projects of each school" – which implies that rather than setting a strict 25% Spanish quota per classroom, teachers would be able to decide how much each language is used.

Òmnium Cultural: "Ideological and anti-democratic"

The pro-independence civic group Òmnium Cultural announced on Wednesday that it will appear in the Constitutional Court to defend the decree that eliminates mandatory percentages of languages ​​in schools.

Its president, Xavier Antich, said on Twitter that the 25% quota for Spanish is an "ideological and anti-democratic" intrusion into the classroom.

Catalan language immersion system

The immersion system is in place to make sure students in Catalonia learn both Spanish and Catalan. One of the reasons behind applying the policy back in the 1990s was that the use of Spanish on a daily basis outside of school was generally more widespread. 

When the immersion system was implemented, the goal of authorities was to avoid having two linguistic communities in Catalonia with people only fluent in one language rather than two, which is why they decided to use Catalan as the working language in the vast majority of schools.

Listen to our Filling the Sink podcast recorded in March 2022 to learn more: PODCAST: Catalan in schools – reasons behind language immersion and why it's in jeopardy