The Catalan language, symbol of nationalism in this part of the North-East of the Spain, became the new issue in the battle between the Catalonia and Madrid, which has presented a reform giving less weight in regional education.
In the highly sensitive context of the nationalist thrust that precipitated the elections of 25 November in Catalonia, the project of reform of education announced by the Spanish Government, was received as a bomb in this region to the very strong cultural identity.
A weight voice invited Wednesday in the debate: that of FC Barcelona, the prestigious club of football, traditional flagship of Catalan identity, which flew to the rescue of the regional language. “FC Barcelona intends to vigorously defend the Catalan language and language immersion model existing in Catalonia for 34 years,” the club said. And further: “the Catalan language and its teaching in schools are part of our identity and is a key element for social cohesion.”
A strong symbol
Catalan, banned the public space under the Franco dictatorship (1939-1975), had found his rights with the transition to democracy and the Constitution of 1978, which established the model of the autonomy of the regions in Spain. Become the language of instruction in this region of 7.5 million people, the catalan has remained the first symbol of regional nationalism, while Spanish is taught there as a living language. In a Catalonia agitated by a pro-independence boost, returns this fall of the Spanish Minister of Education, José Ignacio Wert, who had proposed “hispanicize” regional education, had sounded as a provocation.
These days, the project of reform of education by the Minister, that would require the Government of Catalonia to fund a teaching Spanish to students whose parents require it, revived the controversy. Overall, the project gives weight to the Castilian spoken in all Spain, against the other “official” languages spoken in regions such as the basque, Galician and catalan.
Tuesday, the representative of the Catalan Education, Irene Rigau, slammed the door of a meeting in Madrid with Mr. Wert, claiming to be ready to attack, with the Constitutional Court, this text that “calls into question the status of the Catalan language. “The language is non-negotiable”, launched Mrs Rigau leaving the room.
In front, the nationalist right to power in Catalonia, denouncing a “clear offensive” of Madrid, are preparing to convene on December 12, a meeting with left-wing pro-independence parties to draft a response.
“The new law is as gasoline thrown on the fire, in the middle of the tension between Catalonia and the Spain”, said Wednesday Josep María Cervelló, an official of the Trade Union of teachers Ustec, in announcing the manifestations of support to education in catalan. “An attack in language, social cohesion and the promotion of equal opportunities that govern the Catalan school”, denounced the defense of the language Somescola platform.
Since a decision in June 2010 of the Spanish Constitutional Court, which had erased some points of the status of extended autonomy enjoyed Catalonia since 2006, resentment rose in this traditionally rich region. The economic crisis, and the coming to power last year in Madrid of a right-wing Government, which has imposed on the region’s heavy social sacrifices, still brought the nationalist Sling. It has led in the polls, on November 25 by a strong boost of left parties, pro-independence.