Catalans protest mandate for more Spanish in schools – The Durango Herald
Thousands of Catalans have taken to the streets of Barcelona to protest a court ruling that demands that 25% of all school subjects be taught in Spanish and curbs the still predominant use of the local Catalan language in classrooms.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Thousands of Catalans took to the streets of Barcelona on Saturday to protest a court ruling that requires 25% of all school subjects to be taught in Spanish, thereby reducing the still predominant use of the local Catalan language in classrooms.
Protesters say it would threaten their cherished education system, which helped bring Catalan back to common use after it was abolished during General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in the 20th century.
“It is not characteristic of a democracy that a court invalidates an education system supported by society and its parliament,” said Òscar Escuder, chairman of the Platform for Language, a grassroots group that promotes the use of Catalan which joined the march. “According to our polls, 82% of Catalans support” the current system.
The renewed defense of the Catalan language also promises to galvanize the separatist movement in the region which is struggling to maintain its unity. Several marchers carried independence flags and the leaders of the movement were present.
But families who want their children to learn more in Spanish say the current system violates their right to study in the country’s common language.
The march comes less than a month since Spain’s Supreme Court upheld the 2020 decision of a lower Catalonia court that ruled in favor of a lawsuit brought by Spain’s previous conservative government against the education ministry of Catalonia.
The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Catalan government against the previous ruling that schools in the region must ensure that at least 25% of academic subjects are taught in Spanish. This would result in a doubling of the number of hours of teaching in Spanish to Catalan students from one subject to two. Currently, most schools only use Spanish in Spanish lessons, leaving everything else to be taught in Catalan.
The increase may seem slight, but for many Catalans it is a sacrilege.
“I am here to defend the education system in which I was educated and my children were educated,” said Mónica Muñoz, a 47-year-old translator and mother of three.
“(The mandate of the tribunal) is the death of our language. Our language is the foundation of our society, and the education system has been shown to work… Spanish is not in danger.
Now another institutional confrontation is looming between central authorities and the Catalan regional government, which is led by secessionists who promise not to meet the requirement to increase Spanish in schools.
The Assembly for a Bilingual School in Catalonia, a grassroots group representing Catalans who want more Spanish in classrooms, says that while around 100 families have taken their demand for more Spanish to court, it there are “many more” who support them.
The use of languages in Catalan schools has become a heated national debate after a family denounces that they have been insulted and felt threatened following their request for their child’s public school in Canet de Mar , just north of Barcelona, in order to increase the hours of Spanish as mandated by the courts.
“We are not against Catalan. We love Catalan and we appreciate the richness it brings to all of us as individuals and as a society, ”the family said in an open letter, written in Spanish and Catalan.“ But we are bilingual and we also love spanish. Our goal is nothing more than that Spanish be part of our children’s education in a normal way, as in Catalan society.
Catalan is a Romance language similar to Spanish. It is spoken in the region of Catalonia, northeastern Spain, the small nation of Andorra, and to a lesser extent neighboring Spanish regions and southern France.
The vast majority of Catalonia’s 7.7 million inhabitants are fluent in Catalan and Spanish. Conversations can easily switch between languages, especially since the language contains many very similar words.
The use of Catalan in schools was officially banned during Franco’s reign from the end of the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 until his death in 1975. Since then, the promotion of the language has been a prized achievement of Catalonia, which enjoys a large degree of autonomy since Spain’s return to democracy.
The Catalan education system is widely supported, even by most of the roughly 50% of citizens who are against the push for independence. For many people who came from other parts of Spain in large numbers in the last century, this meant that their children could easily fit in.
In 2019, Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled against another lawsuit brought by Spain’s conservative Popular Party and declared the Catalan system of “language immersion” in Catalan to be constitutional.
The Spanish Constitution states that Spanish is the language of the nation and must be learned and spoken by everyone. He also states that Catalan and other minority languages such as Basque are co-official languages and form part of the “cultural heritage of Spain which should be the subject of special respect and protection”.
Hernán Muñoz contributed to this report.