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Madrid may use direct rule to change language system in Catalan schools

Spain's education ministry considers offering schooling in Spanish despite sector warning it will create "linguistic segregation" 


15 February 2018 05:33 PM


ACN | Barcelona

The Spanish government is considering using direct rule to introduce Spanish as the working language in Catalan schools. The plans under discussion in Madrid’s education ministry include giving families the option to choose Spanish as the main language for their children’s education.

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 it is "internationally recognized." 

Final decision in the coming weeks

While fewer than a hundred families around the country have asked for their children to receive their education in Spanish in the past few years, Madrid is now considering giving all families this option on pre-enrolment forms. Spain’s secretary of state for education, Marcial Marín, said on Thursday that the final decision will be taken in the coming weeks.

Pre-enrolment in schools usually starts in late March, and the process is usually organized by the Catalan education department. Yet the country still has no executive, and so under direct rule Madrid could take the opportunity of providing this option to all families. In the past all Catalan governments have rejected such a move.

Linguistic segregation

For Somescola, having some students studying in Spanish and others in Catalan would lead to “linguistic segregation.” What’s more, the organization believes that the present system is a model “committed to equality of opportunity for children.”

Rajoy confirms idea to Societat Civil Catalana

Yet, it seems the Spanish government is taking the idea of offering Spanish in Catalan schools very seriously. In a meeting at his Moncloa residence on Thursday, Spanish president Mariano Rajoy told representatives of Societat Civil Catalana –a Catalan organization opposed to independence- that his executive was considering the move under new measures to be implemented in February and March under direct rule.

Following the two-hour meeting, the head of Societat Civil Catalana, Josep Rosiñol, said that including the Spanish option on school pre-enrolment forms “was already an obligation of the Catalan government” before direct rule was imposed on Catalonia. Insisting that the idea “should not be news,” to anyone, Rosiñol went on to argue that “it is something that should have been done many years ago but wasn’t.”



  • Image of a protest in favor of Catalan language in schools (by Jordi Marsal)

  • Image of a protest in favor of Catalan language in schools (by Jordi Marsal)