Barcelona (ACN).- The Spanish Education Minister, José Ignacio Wert, continues to target the Catalan school system. Wert is trying to pass a recentralising education reform \u201Cto eliminate the 17 school systems\u201D in place in each Autonomous Community. The Spanish Education Minister, famous for his Spanish nationalist stance, made such statements in an interview at Telemadrid, Madrid\u2019s regional public television broadcaster. In addition, he said he is \u201Cfirmly decided\u201D on making Spanish a school teaching language in Catalonia, a decision that would go against the current legislation and two declarationsof the Spanish Constitutional Court. The Autonomous Communities is the government level in charge of managing the education system. The Catalan Government has qualified Wert\u2019s statements as being \u201Cvery serious\u201D. The Spokesperson for the Catalan Government, Francesc Homs, reminded people that Catalan students have better results in Spanish language than the average of their Spanish peers. In fact, results show that at the end of their schooling, Catalan pupils totally master Spanish and Catalan, therefore perfectly guaranteeing the knowledge of both co-official languages. Homs said that he \u201Cdoes not know Wert\u2019s purpose or goal. If the knowledge [of Spanish language by Catalan pupils] is above the Spanish average, this should be the most important thing. However, if Wert is concerned by other things [than academic results], what is this man doing as Education Minister?\u201D In addition, the civil society organisation \u2018Plataforma per la llengua\u2019, which defends and promotes the use of the Catalan language, accused Wert of \u201Cadding demagogical political tensions\u201D.
The Spanish Government continues to target the Catalan school model, which has Catalan as its teaching language in order to guarantee that students are perfectly proficient in both Spanish and Catalan at the end of their schooling, as results show. Furthermore, in the evaluations made at the end of the school periods, Catalan students have better results in Spanish language than the average throughout Spain. Two weeks ago, it was known that Wert was planning to reduce Catalonia\u2019s say in the definition of the school curriculum and organise periodical evaluations, despite this competence currently being in the hands of the Autonomies. Now, the Spanish Education Minister has stated that he is \u201Cfirmly decided\u201D on making Spanish a teaching language in Catalonia, which would go against the current school model. In fact, in the last few years Spanish nationalism is increasingly going against the Catalan school model, in place since 1983.
A school model praised by UNESCO and the European Commission
The model, which has been in place for three decades, is defined by Catalonia\u2019s Statute of Autonomy (a sort of Constitution approved by the Spanish and Catalan Parliaments and by the Catalan people through a referendum). Furthermore, it has been validated by the Spanish Constitutional Court twice and praised by international organisations such as UNESCO and the European Commission. These international organisations consider the Catalan school model to be a best practice example of integrating two language communities, not segregating by language reasons, avoiding social fractures (as in Belgium, for instance) and guaranteeing the knowledge of both co-official languages. The model is based on the language immersion principle. It ensures that children who do not speak Catalan at home know the language by the end of their schooling period. Otherwise, most of them would not have the possibility to learn Catalan, since they do not speak Catalan at home and Spanish has a dominant position in the streets and the media. Therefore, ensuring that all children in Catalonia know Catalan ensures equal opportunities, since the model also guarantees that all the children perfectly command Spanish, as academic results show. In fact, results show that children from Spanish-speaking families have worse results in Catalan than the results achieved in Spanish by children from Catalan-speaking backgrounds. Furthermore, the model foresees individual attention in Spanish for children arriving in Catalonia. However, Wert, who is a sociologist and was collaborating with ultra conservative media before becoming Education Minister, considers this individual attention to be insufficient.
Only 12 families out of 50,000 new pupils asked to school their children in Spanish
\u201CAll the students have the right to have an education with Spanish as their teaching language\u201D, Wert stated referring to Catalonia. The Spanish Education Minister is \u201Cfirmly decided\u201D on reaching \u201Ca practical solution\u201D during this term to ensure that \u201Cthe right [to be schooled in Spanish] is respected beyond the individualised attention\u201D. The Spanish Constitution does not foresee this \u201Cright\u201D, but clearly states that each Spanish citizens \u201Chas the duty to know Spanish\u201D. The Catalan school model is absolutely respectful with this constitutional duty, as academic results from the last 30 years show.
This school year, more than 1,273,000 children and teenagers are being schooled in Catalonia. Out of the 50,000 new pupils, only 12 families asked to have their children schooled in Spanish and not in Catalan. This represents the 0.024% of the new pupils. The public system ensures individual attention for these cases, but it does not offer schools or classrooms with Spanish as a teaching language, as it would segregate students for language reasons.
Wert \u201Cadds demagogical political tensions\u201D
For \u2018Plataforma per la llengua\u201D, Wert\u2019s statements \u201Cmake explicit, in a shameless way, the will to eliminate the Catalan school model and add demagogical political tensions\u201D in the education world. Furthermore, the organisation stated in a press release that Wert\u2019s words show the \u201Cprejudice\u201D, \u201Cin place for a long time\u201D, against the Catalan school model. According to them, in the past two years, the People\u2019s Party has run \u201Ca judicial and political harassment against the stability of the Catalan school model\u201D.