[lg policy] Spanish or Catalan? Planned school policy shift sparks anger

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat Feb 17 14:20:14 EST 2018


 Spanish or Catalan? Planned school policy shift sparks anger

   - By The Associated Press

MADRID — Feb 16, 2018, 12:28 PM ET

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Spain's conservative government is considering changes to make it easier
for parents in Catalonia to choose Spanish over Catalan as the main
language in their children's schooling.

The move, if confirmed, would go against decades of regional policies
prioritizing the native Catalan language in classrooms while offering a
limited number of lessons in Spanish grammar and literature.

Supporters of an education in Catalan say the current system guarantees
equal opportunities in a region where the native language is widely used
both socially and professionally.

Both Catalan and Spanish are official and spoken indistinctively, but
regional and national authorities have clashed for years over which
language should be used in teaching.

Although current laws allow parents to choose, the default option is
primary and secondary schooling in Catalan, with only limited numbers of
Catalan families completing applications for an education in Spanish.
University is generally taught in Catalan but students are allowed to take
tests in the language of their choice.

Friday's announcement comes amid the backdrop of an unprecedented political
deadlock and after central Spanish authorities began running affairs in the
northeastern region in response to October's illegal attempt to break away
from Spain.

Catalan separatists accuse the government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano
Rajoy <http://abcnews.go.com/topics/news/world/mariano-rajoy.htm> of taking
too far its temporary powers over the region.

"We will do it without doubt," Education Minister Inigo Mendez de Vigo said
Friday, referring to the proposed changes in education. "The right of
parents to choose the working language for their children is very
important."

Catalan separatist politicians and some of the opposition parties at the
national level reject the move. Former regional leader Carles Puigdemont
wrote a tweet saying that the Spanish government "feeds Spanish nationalism
with its right hand and tries to divide Catalan students based on their
language."

Puigdemont has been named as the separatists' candidate to form a new
government in Catalonia but he can't return from Belgium
<http://abcnews.go.com/topics/news/belgium.htm> without facing arrest. He
fled to Brussels in October to avoid a judicial investigation into his
former cabinet's independence push.

Rajoy, who rejects Puigdemont as Catalan leader, has vowed to keep running
the region from Madrid until a new legal and effective government is formed
in Catalonia. But that process remains in a limbo amid legal hurdles and
factional infighting within the separatist parties.

Friday's announcement was seen by many as a warning shot by central
authorities to separatists, urging them to form a government without
Puigdemont in order to recover Catalonia's self-government and avoid
further reforms in the region's policies.

But Mendez de Vigo, who also acts as the government's spokesman, rejected
that claim.

"This is only a measure on behalf of the right of parents to choose which
language they want their children to be taught in," he said. "Nothing else."


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 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
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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