Sacked Education minister urges Catalans to “face up” to Madrid schools' intervention
Clara Ponsatí meets parent associations, students and teachers unions in Brussels, where she is fighting extradition to Spain
The minister of Education of Catalonia, Clara Ponsatí, deposed by the Spanish government, has urged citizens today to "face up" to Madrid's intervention of Catalan schools. After the Spanish government took control of Catalonia's self-government, it dismissed the full cabinet and many director generals in several departments, including Education. The ruling People's Party, together with liberal Ciutadans, has been accusing Catalan schools of "indoctrinating" children, something that the school community has always denied. Some teachers were recently sent to court in la Seu d'Urgell, near the Pyrenees, for discussing in class the police riots on referendum day, in an alleged crime of "incitation to hate".
"I invite everyone to face up to and not be afraid of these aggressions" against Catalan schools, said Ponsatí from Brussels, where she met parents associations and students and teachers unions. "It is important to challenge Article 155, because what Catalan schools are facing these days is, especially, an attack against teachers' academic freedom and democracy," explained Ramon Font, spokesman of the biggest teachers union in Catalonia, USTEC-STEs.
"We are being told that we cannot talk about certain topics in class because if we do we are indoctrinating. This is unacceptable," said Font, adding that this amounts to forbidding teachers "from doing their job." In class, Font said, children should be able to "contrast different views, the official ones, and the not so official ones, to debate, to respect different opinions". "We should never impose silence on what happens in our society," added the teachers' union leader. He said that, for their union, Ponsatí is the "legitimate" minister of Education, and that they will not recognize Madrid's power over Catalan schools.
Ponsatí thanked the unions for meeting with her in Brussels, where, together with Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and three other deposed ministers, she is fighting extradition to Spain –where they all face up to 30 years in prison. Eight of her former cabinet colleagues, such as vicepresident Oriol Junqueras, are in preventive jail in Spain. Ponsatí is running in the December 21 election in Puigdemont 'Together for Catalonia' ticket.
After meeting in Brussels with members of teachers and student union and parents’ associations, she stated that the Catalan education system “will continue to be” the backbone of these issues and highlighted that “the educational community is determined it will be so”. In addition, she asked “everyone to stand up and not to be afraid of any aggression.”