Catalan Government forced to pay for private education in Spanish
The Spanish Ministry of Education has released the decree proposal stating that the Catalan Government has the obligation to provide alternatives to families who request their children to be taught in Spanish in public schools, where Catalan is the first language of instruction and Spanish is mostly taught as a subject. Furthermore, Catalonia and all other Autonomous Communities with two official languages will have “to fully assume” the costs of these children’s education in privately-owned schools using Spanish as the language of instruction if the families do not find the appropriate public alternative. The money will be deducted from the Autonomous Communities’ funding scheme if they do not cooperate. However, the decree does not work the other way round in regions such as Valencia, where families are having problems to school their children in Catalan (co-official there).
Madrid (ACN).- The Spanish Ministry of Education has released the decree proposal stating that the Catalan Government has the obligation to provide alternatives to families who request their children to be taught in Spanish in public schools, where Catalan is the first language of instruction and Spanish is mostly taught as a subject. Furthermore, if requested by the pupils’ families, Catalonia and all other Autonomous Communities with two official languages will have “to fully assume” the costs of these children’s education in privately-owned schools using Spanish as the language of instruction. The money will be deducted from the Autonomous Communities’ funding scheme if they do not cooperate. However, the decree does not work the other way round in regions such as Valencia, where families are having problems to school their children in Catalan (co-official there). The Spanish Government’s project foresees that families will first have to pay the school fees themselves and they will receive an answer to their request from the Spanish Ministry of Education within 6 months. The Education Ministry will notify such expenses on a monthly basis to the Finance Ministry, which runs the Autonomous Community government’s funding scheme. Afterwards, the Finance Ministry will deduct the money from the funds to be transferred. Therefore, the system would indirectly make the Catalan Government pay for privately-owned schools if it does not offer public education in Spanish. The measure goes against Catalonia’s self-government and its own school model, praised by international organisations since it guarantees true bilingualism and fosters equal opportunities and social cohesion. School stakeholders have insistingly protested against the Spanish Government's Education Reform and the 'Hispanisation' of the Catalan Education System.
The draft states that the education authorities of the Autonomous Communities where two official languages co-exist have two alternatives to “guarantee” the pupils’ “right” to receive instruction in Spanish. The Constitutional Court stated on two occasions that such a “right” does not exist; the only “right and duty” is “to know” Spanish, which is entirely guaranteed by the Catalan school system, as proven by the results of the last 30 years.
The Spanish Executive’s decree states that Autonomous Communities can, on the one hand, “implement systems” in which the Spanish language is taught in “each of the levels and compulsory subjects”. In this case, the school system will “determine the reasonable proportion of the Spanish language and another official language”. They can also opt for a dual system, meaning “establishing systems in which non-linguistic subjects are taught exclusively in the co-official language”, for instance Catalan, but “always with an alternative offer of instruction available, supported by public funds and using the Spanish language as the language of instruction in a reasonable proportion”.
In addition, the text explicitly says that it does not consider appropriate the “measures involving individual attention in Spanish or a separation in different groups because it is a common language”. The draft has therefore reasserted recent Judicial rulings which stated that if the family of one pupil requested the class to be given in Spanish, the families of all the other children could not oppose such a decision and would also have to be taught in the language. The text also warned that it did not consider “reasonable” teaching offers in Spanish that required pupil to be schooled outside of their home town.
If no alternatives are provided, the Catalan Executive will have to “fully assume” expenses in private schools
At this point, the text pressures the Catalan Government into choosing one of the two options aforementioned and points out that “if the annual curriculum of the administration does not guarantee a reasonably sustained teaching offer with the aim of Spanish being used as language of instruction in public schools, the Ministry of Education, upon verification of the situation, will fully assume, on behalf of the corresponding education authorities, the tuition costs of these pupils in privately-owned schools where such an offer is available”, expenses that “will be charged to the educational administration”, which means the Catalan Education Ministry. The decree project provides for the payments to be made “directly” in compensation for the effective schooling costs of private schools where Spanish is used as the main teaching language.
According to the draft, the process must be initiated by a request from the pupils’ parents or guardians, or the pupils themselves if they are over 18. A special form will be available on the website of the Spanish Ministry of Education, citizen offices, as well as government delegations and sub-delegations of all the Spanish Autonomous Communities which have their own official language. The families must attach a copy of their file “which will include the request for the use of Spanish as the language of instruction” and the document certifying the registration of the pupil in the public school to investigate on whether it offers sufficient education in Spanish.
The Catalan Government should provide “justification” on its educational offer
After filing the request, the Spanish Government’s High Inspectors of Education will ask the autonomous administration to provide “information on the educational offer in Spanish in the concerned area”, which must include the number of students who receive education in Spanish and “justification” on the balance between the co-official language and Spanish. The Catalan Ministry of Education will have a maximum of fifteen days to provide the documents it deems appropriate and then the instructor will submit the proposed course of action.
Final decision to be reached within 6 months
Once past this stage, the Spanish General Directorate for Cooperation and Evaluation will evaluate the “right to obtain compensation for schooling costs”. The deadline for issuing the decision is set at six months, and if this period expires without resolution, it will be considered rejected. If the request is accepted, the Spanish Ministry of Education will pay for the pupils’ “registration and enrolment” as well as all expenses “derived from complementary services such as transportation, school canteens and boarding-schools”.
Payment, however, will not be given without the official documentation sent by the privately-owned school. The right to compensation shall take effect from the beginning to the end of compulsory education. In the whole of the Autonomous Community, the Minister of Education will have the right to cut off financial aid when it is deemed that pupils receive adequate education in Spanish, in the case of detected fraud or when the case no longer meet the requirements.
The Ministry of Education will notify the amounts paid each month
According to the draft, the Ministry of Education will notify the Spanish Ministry of Finance the expenses covered for private schooling each month, and the “the State will decrease or increase the amount of financial resources of the Autonomous Communities”.