Catalan in the classroom

CUP, ANC, Plataforma per la Llengua and several unions push against new agreement on Catalan

Unionist parties, however, denounce the new norm does not execute the 25%-in-Spanish ruling

4 min
The president, Pere Aragonès, responds to the questions of the parliamentary groups at the session of control of Parliament

BarcelonaThe new agreement on Catalan that ERC, JxCat, the PSC and En Comú have reached not only generates different interpretations among the signatory parties. It is also seen very differently by Unionist and pro-Catalan parties and associations. The CUP, the Plataforma per la Llengua, the ANC, the Coordinadora d'Associacions per la Llengua and several educational unions have accused the Government of turning the Catalan High Court's ruling into "law", in the words of CUP spokesperson Dolors Sabater. And the Unionist right has claimed that the signatories are ignoring a court sentence. In short, some believe it applies the rulings; others that it ignores it. Even so, the bill has passed its first hurdle: the signatory groups have had it processed and after a single reading it will probably be approved on Friday as the last item on the agenda.

"Today they are legislating against the Catalan language and they are going backwards. It is the parties that govern the Generalitat that make this possible," said Sabater, in her intervention. "Today Parliament is converting Spanish into a classroom language for the first time in forty years", she added, who believes that subjects will now be taught in Spanish. This is the same as the Socialists, who did sign the agreement, claim; however, JxCat and ERC understand it means something else. "They have fallen into the trap", Sabater concluded.

They same opinion as the CUP is held by Plataforma per la Llengua, the ANC and the Coordinadora d'Associacions per la Llengua, in addition to the teachers union USTEC, which already rejected the agreement on Tuesday. "Defining Spanish as a 'curricular language' would allow the Spanish government to demand 50% of Spanish in the classrooms, under the protection of the Lomloe", a Plataforma per la Llengua statement reads, which asks the signatory parties to amend the text to exclude the term "curricular". This has been one of the stumbling blocks of the negotiation and it still creates a difference of opinions.

The amendment proposed by Plataforma por la Lengua, which finally no party has presented.

The new ANC president, Dolors Feliu, in an interview with ARA spoke in similar terms. She denounced that "content may now be 50% in Spanish": "It is a step backwards", she said, before lamenting "the giant steps" against immersion. "The agreement should have been created between pro-independence parties and organisations," Feliu stressed, referring to the PSC's support for a law that she believes puts linguistic immersion "in danger". The Coordinadora d'Associacions per la Llengua (CAL), which organises the Correllengua, also stated on Twitter its rejection of the proposed law, because "it opens the door to linguistic segregation and legitimises the end of immersion".

These accusations, in any case, have been rejected by ERC and JxCat. JxCat spokeswoman Mònica Sales said the law protects the Catalan model of linguistic immersion in schools, while ERC spokeswoman Marta Vilalta celebrated the consensus reached on the model for Catalan schools and made a call to the CUP to sign the agreement. Catalan president Pere Aragonès defended the agreement and claimed that courts have to abide by the new law. That is to say, the head of the executive considers that once the Parliament approves the new law that says that the use of one language or another has to be decided by "pedagogical criteria" and not by "percentages", the High Court will no longer be able to demand 25% of classes in Spanish. "Transformations need country-wide consensus," said Aragonès, who advocated transferring the consensus on Catalan to many other areas. "The path is made by moving forward; dialogue, by talking, and consensus, by creating it," said Aragonès

The president, Pere Aragonès, in Parliament on Wednesday.

Will Spanish be the classroom language?

Although there are sectors of the independence movement that are against the agreement on the Catalan language –which is endorsed, however, by pro-independence ERC, Junts and Òmnium–, the Spanish right considers it protects linguistic immersion and does not comply with the High Court ruling, calling it "a fraud to the Constitution", in the words of Carlos Carrizosa (Cs). On the other hand, PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo said: "It not only implies the breach of the law but the derogation of individual rights to be able to study in both official languages". According to Ciutadans, the law even destroys the Castilian language and is a betrayal to the legality that has lasted "40 years". Unionists' criticism were mainly directed to the PSC for being the "necessary cooperator" of the independentism. "The PSC is lost for the cause of bilingualism and constitutionalism. It is independentistas' useful fool, like En Comú", Cs spokesperson Nacho Martín Blanco said. "What a shame about the PSC and Podemos", said Vox spokesman Joan Garriga.

Unionism has repeatedly questioned Education minister Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, who will be responsible for implementing the court ruling. Question after question: "Will you force the educational community to disobey the courts? Will you give instructions to abide by the sentence? Think carefully about the answer, so that you don't end up like your colleagues, who were very brave here but whose legs trembled before the judge", said Lorena Roldán (PP). The minister said new agreement legally protects the schools, although he did not want to answer the question about whether Spanish will be a classroom language in Catalonia. "Will Spanish be a classroom language in schools? Answer, yes or no," Cs asked Cambray. "What we do today with this country-wide agreement is to reaffirm the Catalan school model and to legally protect our head teachers before a sentence that is a pedagogical aberration", Cambray answered. "I had asked you to be specific, but you are incapable of it", retorted Nacho Martín Blanco.

The leader of Cs, Carlos Carrizosa, in Parliament