Language policy change in schools ‘illegal,’ say heads
Unionist organization says Mariano Rajoy “confirmed” Spanish would be offered as working classroom language
The controversy over the language policy in Catalan schools continues. A member of the central board of Catalan public school heads on Friday called the change considered by the Spanish government “illegal.” In an interview with the RAC1 radio station, Artur Ramírez said that the Catalan education law does not allow changes in the current system, which establishes Catalan as the working language in all schools. According to Ramírez, Madrid’s plans to offer parents the option of Spanish as the main language in schools “breaks an existing consensus within the educational community” and is “irresponsible.”
“What do they want? To divide children between Spanish and Catalan?” asked Ramírez. “Dividing children for language reasons isn’t an educational measure, it is promoting differences, it is sectarian and does not help integration or cohesion,” he added. Ramírez, who pointed out that official exams show that students finish their studies with the same level of Catalan as Spanish, also warned that the measure could lead to conflicts and “a priori” is not logistically possible.
On Thursday, the Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, met the leaders of Societat Civil Catalana, a Catalan unionist organization. According to the group, Rajoy “confirmed” to them that Spanish as a main language would be an option for families in the upcoming pre-enrolment for the next school year. Spain’s secretary of state for education, Marcial Marín, also said on Thursday that the final decision will be taken in the coming weeks.
"What do they want? To divide children between Spanish and Catalan?"
Artur Ramírez · Member of the central board of Catalan public school heads
Since self-government was restored to Catalonia in the 1980s, Catalan has been the working language in schools, with students completing their education with a good command of both Catalan and Spanish. According to the Somescola platform, which includes around 50 civic organizations in the sector, the current policy ensures "social cohesion" and is "internationally recognized."
A number of Catalan politicians reacted to the news. The deposed Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, said that Madrid “is trying to divide Catalan students for language reasons,” whereas the former Catalan education minister, Meritxell Ruiz, claimed that the law does not allow changes in the pre-enrolment system. The unionist Socialist party also flatly rejected Madrid’s move. “The Catalan Socialists have never been in favor of segregating children for language reasons,” said Meritxell Batet, an MP in the Spanish Congress.