JxCat accuses ERC of not doing enough to shield linguistic immersion in Canet school

Speaker Borràs demands Department of Education take over the school and ERC criticises "magic solutions"

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The demonstration in Canet de Mar in favour of linguistic immersion

BarcelonaEvery week there is some sort of row between coalition government partners in Catalonia. Before the wound opened by the negotiation of the Catalan and state budgets has had time to heal, ERC and JxCat are back at it over the defence of linguistic immersion in Catalan schools after a High Court decision forced a school in Canet to teach a quarter of classes in Spanish. It all began with speaker Laura Borràs (JxCat) suggesting Education minister Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray (ERC) tale over the school in Canet de Mar. Borràs's proposal, which would expose to the minister to possible legal action, has not been well received by ERC. Not so much because of the substance, which is not convincing either, but because of the manner in which its coalition partner has chosen to bring up the issue.

Borràs has demanded that the Government be more forceful when it comes to defending immersion. "It cannot be that we say that we cannot do anything. We have full powers in education. And we cannot leave all responsibility to the professionals", she defended in an interview on Radio 4 and La 2. Subsequently, JxCat spokeswoman Elsa Artadi made the same demand in a press conference. She said that Borràs's proposal was also the party's and that she hoped the Education Department would study this possibility as a way of "shielding" the system of linguistic immersion in all schools in Catalonia. "It is necessary that the department shield head teachers against any responsibility they may incur before the Catalan High Court. It is necessary to give legal coverage to head teachers before the judicial offensive against the linguistic immersion", Artadi stressed, recalling former Education minister Clara Ponsatí took over schools in 2017 so that the Independence Referendum could be held.

She has also claimed that Junts is studying other urgent measures. These include changes to Catalan education law and to Linguistic Policy to reinforce, they say, the immersion system. According to Artadi, "you cannot leave everything in the hands" of the Spanish parliament – an attack on ERC, who claimed the Celaá law had "shielded" immersion – although JxCat does not renounce to promoting reforms. "We all –parties, organisations and institutions– must hold a joint offensive in defense of Catalan," Artadi stated, asserting that defending the language has to go beyond the pro-independence movement.

On the other hand, the CUP has also joined JxCat's request for the Education Department to take over the school. According to the spokesman for the national secretariat, Edgar Fernàndez, "what cannot happen is that a Catalan government should take no responsibility and leave the educational community out in the cold". And he added that all proposals to "protect the educational community and take responsibility for the defence of Catalan will be welcome". However, Fernàndez warned that "the conflict is not about a school or head teacher" and the language debate "cannot end here".

The week of the summit

ERC wanted this week to be the one of the unitary defence of Catalan. First on Thursday, in the summit promoted by the Generalitat with parties and social organisations in favour of immersion, and later on Saturday, with the demonstration that has been called in Barcelona in defence of the linguistic model, which the PSC will not be attending. But the week has started far from the mental framework they intended. Borràs's statements have not been well received by ERC ranks. Among them, Catalan president Pere Aragonès, who asked for responsibility and not to turn this matter into a partisan struggle. ERC assistant secretary general Marta Vilalta also showed her displeasure, stating immersion is defended with "maximum political unity" and not with "improvisations or magic solutions". In addition, she has demanded to know "in whose name" she makes the proposal, since if it is in the name of her party, she considers that the meeting of the executive council on Tuesday would be the ideal place to make it.

The deputy secretary general of ERC, Marta Vilalta, on Monday.

ERC wanted to create common front in defence of Catalan, alongside other parties and organisations. Slowly, this would allow to find a solution for the problem at the Canet school but also with the new media law. ERC has made statements declaring immersion is undebatable but, so far, is yet to put forward any concrete measures.

On the whole, there has been a heated debate, with former MPs, a former leader of ERC and former Catalan president Quim Torra all weighing in on the debate and asking the Department of Education to take full responsibility. In addition, there have been calls for a "clear institutional strategy" to ignore court rulings against immersion. Later this week the controversy will reach parliament, as CUP has registered a motion requesting the Catalan government to take over the school and ensure Catalan is the classroom language throughout Catalonia. On the other hand, the PP has registered a motion asking the Catalan government to ensure a minimum of 25% of classes are taught in Spanish, to "guarantee citizens' linguistic rights".