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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.

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19 December 2012 11:21 PM

by

ACN

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\u2019s 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 \u201Ctotally rejects\u201D the current proposal as the Spanish Ministry \u201Chas not changed a single comma\u201D despite talks over the last few days. However, \u201Ctechnical improvements\u201D could be included during the parliamentary debate, stated Wert at the end of the meeting. Wert, from the People\u2019s Party (PP), famous for stating two months ago that he wanted \u201Cto Hispanicise Catalan pupils\u201D, is pushing for a reform that will break up Catalonia\u2019s 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 \u201Cis not against the linguistic immersion\u201D 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\u2019s reform.


A reform pushed by a Spanish nationalist politician who wants \u201Cto Hispanicise Catalan pupils\u201D

Many people in Catalonia question Wert\u2019s sincerity in stating that the reform is not against the Catalan language looking at the proposal\u2019s text and considering the Minister\u2019s statements made in October in which he linked the increasing support for Catalonia\u2019s independence from Spain with the Catalan school model. Furthermore, the doubt about Wert\u2019s 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\u2019s Party (PP). The FAES President, the former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar, stated a few weeks ago that before \u201CSpain is broken, Catalonia will break\u201D.

Catalonia has created \u201Cconfusion\u201D

Wert stated that the Catalan Government has created \u201Cconfusion\u201D regarding the reform proposal and the nature of the meetings between the Spanish Ministry and the Education Ministers from the Autonomous Communities, which \u201Care not a discussion forum\u201D.  Along these lines he added that before the law is approved by the Senate, \u201Cthere is always room to modify the text\u201D. In addition, he affirmed that his department has made \u201Can effort to approach\u201D the Catalan Government although they have maintained what they considered to be essential. He added they have made \u201Ca generous offer\u201D to the Catalan Executive to guarantee \u201Cthe parents\u2019 right to school their children in Spanish\u201D.

The Catalan Government \u201Ctotally rejects\u201D the reform

For the Catalan Government, this way of proceeding does not mean \u201Cnegotiating\u201D but only \u201Ctalking\u201D since the Spanish Ministry refused to modify the clauses affecting the Catalan linguistic immersion model. \u201CThe right to school children in Spanish\u201D, 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 \u2018number two\u2019

To show her opposition to the Reform and the Spanish Ministry\u2019s lack of will to negotiate, the Catalan Education Minister, Irene Rigau, did not attend the meeting with Wert and the 16 other Autonomous Communities\u2019 Ministers. Instead, she has sent her department\u2019s \u2018number two\u2019, Maria Jesús Mier. The Catalan Government \u201Ctotally rejects\u201D the reform as the Ministry \u201Chas not changed a single comma\u201D of the last text as presented on the 4th of December, explained Mier at the end of the meeting.

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  • Maria Jesús Mier (left) and José Ignacio Wert at Wednesday's meeting (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

  • Maria Jesús Mier (left) and José Ignacio Wert at Wednesday's meeting (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)