[lg policy] Language policy change in schools ‘illegal,’ say heads

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri Feb 16 11:18:06 EST 2018

 Language policy change in schools ‘illegal,’ say heads

Unionist organization says Mariano Rajoy “confirmed” Spanish would be
offered as working classroom language

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16 February 2018 11:51 AM
byACN | Barcelona

The controversy over the language policy in Catalan schools continues. A
member of the central board of Catalan public school heads on Friday called
the change considered by the Spanish government “illegal.” In an interview
with the RAC1 radio station, Artur Ramírez said that the Catalan education
law does not allow changes in the current system, which establishes Catalan
as the working language in all schools. According to Ramírez, Madrid’s
plans to offer parents the option of Spanish as the main language in
schools “*breaks an existing consensus* within the educational community”
and is “irresponsible.”

“What do they want? To divide children between Spanish and Catalan?” asked
Ramírez. “Dividing children for language reasons isn’t an educational
measure, it is promoting differences, it is sectarian and *does not help
integration or cohesion*,” he added. Ramírez, who pointed out that official
exams show that students finish their studies with the same level of
Catalan as Spanish, also warned that the measure could lead to conflicts
and “a priori” is not logistically possible.

On Thursday, the Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, met the leaders of *Societat
Civil Catalana*, a Catalan unionist organization. According to the
group, *Rajoy
“confirmed” to them* that Spanish as a main language would be an option for
families in the upcoming pre-enrolment for the next school year. Spain’s
secretary of state for education, Marcial Marín, also said on Thursday that
the final decision will be taken in the coming weeks.


   *"What do they want? To divide children between Spanish and Catalan?"*

   *Artur Ramírez* · Member of the central board of Catalan public school

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 is
"internationally recognized."*

*Puigdemont's reaction*

A number of Catalan politicians reacted to the news. The deposed Catalan
president, Carles Puigdemont, said that Madrid “is trying to divide Catalan
students for language reasons,” whereas the former Catalan education
minister, Meritxell Ruiz, claimed that the law does not allow changes in
the pre-enrolment system. The unionist Socialist party also flatly rejected
Madrid’s move. *“The Catalan Socialists have never been in favor of
segregating children* for language reasons,” said Meritxell Batet, an MP in
the Spanish Congress.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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