The Spanish Supreme Court validates the Catalan school model based on the principle of linguistic immersion
The Spanish Supreme Court has rejected an appeal presented by one family against the Catalan Supreme Court’s decision adopted in March last year that validated the current public school model of linguistic immersion. The Spanish Supreme Court has stated that the Catalan Government does not have to change the entire Catalan school model, which has been in place since the early 1980s. However, it does have to consider individual petitions from families wanting to school their children in Spanish and make Spanish the language of instruction “in the proportion that the Catalan Government considers to be convenient” in “the school and class in which the offspring of the petitioner is being taught”.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Tuesday, the Spanish Supreme Court rejected an appeal presented by one family against the Catalan Supreme Court\u2019s decision adopted in March last year in which it validated Catalonia\u2019s public school model of linguistic immersion. The Spanish Supreme Court has stated that the Catalan Government does not have to change the entire Catalan school model, which has been in place since the early 1980s. However, it has to consider individual petitions from families wanting to school their children in Spanish and make Spanish the language of instruction \u201Cin the proportion that the Catalan Government considers to be convenient\u201D in \u201Cthe school and class in which the offspring of the petitioner is being taught\u201D. This special individual attention has been in place for the last years, included in Catalonia\u2019s Education Law. This year, only 0.024% of the new pupils (12 families out of 50,000) asked for their children being taught in Spanish. The Catalan school model has already been validated twice by the Constitutional Court and it has been praised by UNESCO and the European Commission as one best practice example, fostering equal opportunities, empowering true bilingualism and not creating two separate language communities. It is based on the linguistic immersion principle and Catalan is the language of instruction. This way, children from Spanish speaking families living in Catalonia get the opportunity to learn Catalan because otherwise they would not be exposed to it. The model has proved its effectiveness for the last three decades, guaranteeing that students are proficient in both Spanish and Catalan by the end of the school period. In fact, results show that Catalan students have the same knowledge of the Spanish language as the rest of their peers throughout Spain and, in some years, they even got higher results than the average. The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, is said to be satisfied with the Spanish Supreme Court\u2019s decision, as \u201Cit exactly says\u201D what the Catalan Government and the entire Catalonia were claiming: the Catalan school model must be preserved.
The Spanish Supreme Court has stated that if individual families want to school their children in Spanish in Catalonia, the Catalan Government has to consider this petition on an individual basis, without changing the entire system. This is already being done. This current 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 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.
The Spanish Supreme Court gives the Catalan Government the responsibility to decide on the proportion that Spanish will be used as an instruction language in these individual cases. The Catalan Government has been defending this interpretation since the controversy took another dimension in 2010 with a sentence being passed in the Spanish Supreme Court that backed the petition of six families to school their children in Spanish in Catalonia. However, Spanish nationalist parties and media, as well as the six families, interpreted this as the Spanish Supreme Court supporting a change of the entire model. The Catalan Supreme Court clarified the sentence and stated that it was only referring to individual cases and not to the entire model.
On Tuesday, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, reminded everybody that Catalonia\u2019s Education Law already foresees some individualised attention for the families that want their children to be schooled in Spanish. However, he underlined that \u201Cvery few\u201D families are requesting to school their children in Spanish and that the entire model cannot be \u201Cdamaged\u201D because of this. Mas stated that the Catalan school model \u201Cis widely accepted by society, by a total majority and for a long time ago\u201D. In addition, he emphasised that the model based on the principle of linguistic immersion is \u201Ca basic element of social and linguistic cohesion\u201D. Furthermore, he insisted that the model \u201Chas to be only one\u201D because otherwise \u201Cthe model will be broken into differentiated networks\u201D, which would create two separate language communities.