Court suspends decree establishing Catalan as language of instruction in schools 

Catalan government passed law in May to protect Catalan amid significant decline among young people

Students of Inocencio Pardos school
Students of Inocencio Pardos school / Anna Berga
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

July 5, 2024 02:28 PM

July 5, 2024 04:21 PM

Catalonia's High Court (TSJC) suspended a decree approved by the Catalan government in May that established Catalan as the language of instruction in Catalan public schools. 

According to the court, the decree places Spanish "in a marginal position" because it does not establish a "minimum guarantee" for its use. 

The Catalan government issued the decree to strengthen the Catalan language in the face of a significant decline in its use, especially among young people. 

In addition, last year several families demanded that 25% of classes be taught in Spanish. 

To safeguard Catalan in schools, the new decree established Catalan as the language "normally used as the language of instruction." 

It also stated that schools' language plans could not be changed in the middle of the year and that the Education ministry, not the school administration, had sole legal responsibility for the projects. 

In addition, with regard to Spanish, the new regulation clarified that "percentages, proportions or numerical parameters cannot be used in the teaching of languages." 

Talking about the judicial decision, sitting Catalan education minister Anna Simó said that "there are judges at the Catalan High Court that listen more to what one association says than what the majority social and political consensus in Catalonia says."


Immersion system

There are over 1.6 million students in Catalonia and since 1983, the vast majority of schools use Catalan as the working language with pupils. Catalonia has two main official languages, Spanish and Catalan, but there is a Catalan immersion system in place to strengthen the use of the language. 

The goal of this education policy in public and semi-public schools is for students to be proficient in both languages. Most of Catalonia’s students go to these kinds of schools; private ones, on the other hand, are exempt from implementing the immersion system. 

"The immersion system places a community, students, in this case, in a language setting to achieve full bilingualism. And in Catalonia, there are two coexisting languages, Catalan and Spanish, but there is one that is clearly stronger in society," Anna Rosès, a Catalan language teacher at Barcelona’s Escola Pia Sarrià, told Catalan News. 

Some of the reasons why Spanish has a bigger presence are because of pop culture, cinema, television channels, court rulings, or other day-to-day activities, in which people tend to favor the language in certain settings.

Listen to our Filling the Sink podcast to learn more about the immersion system in Catalan schools.