Wert does not change his Education Reform proposal and the Catalan Government “totally rejects” it
The Spanish Education Minister, José Ignacio Wert, refuses to modify his Education Reform that will relegate the Catalan language in schools and re-centralise power. However, “technical improvements” could be included during the parliamentary debate. The Catalan Government “totally rejects” the current proposal as Wert “has not changed a single comma” despite the talks. Wert, famous for stating two months ago that he wanted “to Hispanicise Catalan pupils”, is pushing for a reform that will break Catalonia’s education model, which has been in place for more than 30 years. The Catalan school model guarantees knowledge of both Spanish and Catalan and it has been praised for fostering bilingualism and social cohesion by international organisations. The reform faces strong objections in Catalonia.
Madrid (ACN).- In the last sector meeting held in Madrid before the Education Reform was sent to the Spanish Parliament for debate and approval, the Spanish Education Minister, José Ignacio Wert, refused to modify the proposal, despite heavy and shared criticism from Catalonia. Wert’s reform will relegate the Catalan language in schools, making it not obligatory, and re-centralise power, despite legislation that specifies that Autonomous Communities are in charge of managing education services, included the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, approved in a binding referendum. The Catalan Government “totally rejects” the current proposal as the Spanish Ministry “has not changed a single comma” despite talks over the last few days. However, “technical improvements” could be included during the parliamentary debate, stated Wert at the end of the meeting. Wert, from the People’s Party (PP), famous for stating two months ago that he wanted “to Hispanicise Catalan pupils”, is pushing for a reform that will break up Catalonia’s education model, which has been in place for more than 30 years. The Catalan school model is based on linguistic immersion and guarantees knowledge of both Spanish and Catalan, as results show. In addition, it has been praised for fostering bilingualism, social cohesion and equal opportunities by international organisations, such as UNESCO and the European Commission. The reform faces strong objections in Catalonia as they fear it would split Catalan society into two separate language communities, breaking apart the current social cohesion and creating a linguistic problem that does not exist at the moment. According to Wert, the reform “is not against the linguistic immersion” principle nor against Catalan language. The Basque Country, Andalucía, Canarias and Asturias joined Catalonia in their opposition to the reform; they represent the Autonomous Communities that are not run by the PP. The 12 regional governments run by the PP supported Wert’s reform.
A reform pushed by a Spanish nationalist politician who wants “to Hispanicise Catalan pupils”
Many people in Catalonia question Wert’s sincerity in stating that the reform is not against the Catalan language looking at the proposal’s text and considering the Minister’s statements made in October in which he linked the increasing support for Catalonia’s independence from Spain with the Catalan school model. Furthermore, the doubt about Wert’s intentions persists looking at his tracked trajectory of being a collaborator with ultra-conservative and Spanish nationalist media before becoming a minister or being a member of the Spanish nationalist think tank FAES, linked to the People’s Party (PP). The FAES President, the former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar, stated a few weeks ago that before “Spain is broken, Catalonia will break”.
Catalonia has created “confusion”
Wert stated that the Catalan Government has created “confusion” regarding the reform proposal and the nature of the meetings between the Spanish Ministry and the Education Ministers from the Autonomous Communities, which “are not a discussion forum”. Along these lines he added that before the law is approved by the Senate, “there is always room to modify the text”. In addition, he affirmed that his department has made “an effort to approach” the Catalan Government although they have maintained what they considered to be essential. He added they have made “a generous offer” to the Catalan Executive to guarantee “the parents’ right to school their children in Spanish”.
The Catalan Government “totally rejects” the reform
For the Catalan Government, this way of proceeding does not mean “negotiating” but only “talking” since the Spanish Ministry refused to modify the clauses affecting the Catalan linguistic immersion model. “The right to school children in Spanish”, as Wert states, does not exist, as the Constitutional Court has recognised on two previous occasions. The Spanish Constitution states that citizens have the obligation to know Spanish, but not the right to be schooled in this language. The Constitutional Court has twice validated the Catalan school model as it absolutely guarantees that pupils know both Spanish and Catalan at the end of their studies. In fact, results show that Catalan students have the same - or even higher, depending on the years - knowledge of the Spanish language at the end of their studies compared to the Spanish average.
The Catalan Minister for Education does not attend the meeting and send her ‘number two’
To show her opposition to the Reform and the Spanish Ministry’s lack of will to negotiate, the Catalan Education Minister, Irene Rigau, did not attend the meeting with Wert and the 16 other Autonomous Communities’ Ministers. Instead, she has sent her department’s ‘number two’, Maria Jesús Mier. The Catalan Government “totally rejects” the reform as the Ministry “has not changed a single comma” of the last text as presented on the 4th of December, explained Mier at the end of the meeting.