A controversy over the proportion of Spanish that is used in Catalan schools re-ignited the fuse of independence

“Now and always, the school in Catalan!”, Says the poster of one of the protesters (AFP) (PAU BARRENA /)

The language in Catalan schools poisons the political debate in Spain, and served the right alike to lash out at the Spanish government for refusing to intervene.

Under the slogan “Now and forever, the school in Catalan!”, Thousands of people summoned by educational associations, unions and secessionist parties and organizations marched this Saturday in Barcelona (northeast), in defense of the linguistic model in public schools, where All subjects -except Spanish- are taught in Catalan.

Although it is long-standing, The debate on education in Catalonia became tense after a family in the town of Canet de Mar asked that a sentence of the Supreme Court of Justice be fulfilled for their five-year-old son, which in November determined that Catalan schools must teach a minimum 25% of classes in Spanish.

The family received a cataract of insults on social networks, while the regional independence government of Catalonia, which as in all Spanish regions is competent in educational matters, has been reluctant to comply with the court ruling.

The right-wing opposition reacted irritably. The conservative Popular Party asked Madrid to intervene in Catalan autonomy in educational matters and its leader, Pablo Casado, snapped in Congress on Wednesday to the president of the government, the socialist Pedro Sánchez: “What the hell has to happen in Spain for you to take responsibility? ”.

Sánchez, who at the head of a minority government needs the support of the Catalan independentists to approve the 2022 budgets and other key laws, limited himself to expressing his “solidarity” with the Canet de Mar family and asking for the judicial rulings to be complied with. .

And he accused the right of “inflaming” the debate. “We are not going to be in those inflammatory statements of you, you talking about linguistic apartheid,” he reproached.

Demonstration in Catalonia for education- 12/18/2021
Catalonia has applied so-called linguistic immersion for decades, reserving only two hours a week in Spanish. (AFP) (PAU BARRENA /)

Regroup the troops

Catalonia, which like the Basque Country or Galicia has a co-official language, has applied so-called linguistic immersion for decades, reserving only two hours a week for Spanish. Nationalism defends the model claiming that Spanish, due to its number of speakers and its media and cultural power, maintains a predominant social use in the region, while Catalan is a vulnerable language that must be defended.

Non-nationalists, on their side, denounce that the model does not guarantee optimal learning of Spanish in the region of 7.8 million inhabitants.

The system “is discriminatory, because the children of Catalan speakers can send their children to school in their mother tongue (…) however, we cannot,” Doris López Rodríguez, from the Spanish-speaking association that defends Spanish, told AFPTV.

In the political arena, The Catalan independence movement, which has lost steam four years after the turbulent days of the self-determination referendum and the failed declaration of independence of October 2017, has used the controversy to regroup its forces.

Secessionism “is very weakened, the polls show you. So the issue of language is the element to which it clings (…) to try to revitalize its electoral base, ”Oriol Bartomeus, professor of Political Science at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​explained to AFP.

The pro-independence base “has a point of frustration” and “fatigue,” he said.

Part of that frustration comes from the internal division of the independence movement itself, which was once again evident on this occasion.

The Together for Catalonia party, of former regional president Carles Puigdemont, fled to Belgium after the failed secession from Spain, asked in its confrontational line that the region assume the direction of the Canet de Mar school and refuse to apply the Supreme Court’s ruling.

But the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), at the head of the regional government with President Pere Aragonès, although he defended linguistic immersion, asked not to do “partisanship” with the educational model and proposed to put two teachers, one in Spanish and the other in Catalan. , to ensure learning in both languages ​​where necessary.

This position of ERC is in line with its turn towards pactist positions. In fact, the party, which maintains a dialogue with Madrid, this week got the central government to accept that state funds finance production in Catalan on platforms such as Netflix, in exchange for their support to approve the 2022 budgets.

With information from AFP


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