Catalonia hits back in school language battle

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
Catalonia hits back in school language battle
The latest round of the language battle betwen Madrid and Catalonia has been simmering away for months. Photo: audio-Luci-Store/Flickr

Spain’s central government and Catalonia’s regional legislature are in the midst of a heated dispute over a new law that will boost the use of Castilian Spanish in Catalan classrooms.


The new rules will increase the number of hours of Spanish language classes in Catalan schools if a single pupil requests this.

The ruling follows an appeal by ten parents in Catalonia who wanted their kids to be taught in both Spanish and Catalan.

Julián Busca, an Argentinian who has lived in the town of Casteldefells for 11 years, headed the bid after he was told by his children’s headmaster that Catalan had to be spoken in school parents’ meetings.

“What I wanted was a balance between Catalan and Castilian Spanish in the schooling system here,” Busca told Spanish newspaper El País.

Catalonia’s Supreme Court recognized the parents’ decision to have Spanish used in the classroom but in turn passed a law which affects everyone.

If one pupil or his or her parents asks for Castilian Spanish to be used in the classroom, the teacher will have to swap languages with the whole class and not just the child in question.

The Catalan Supreme Court concluded that the pupil’s right to be taught in Spanish “would not be achieved with individual tutoring in Spanish, but only with a complete overhaul of the system.”

Catalonia’s autonomous government La Generalitat has already rejected the court’s hearing.

La Generalitat’s Education Minister Irene Rigau sees it as an attack on Catalonia’s education system and pointed out to El País that the legislation should deal with individual cases and not affect all Catalan families.

But Spanish Education Minister José Ignacio Wert warned the Catalan government on Thursday that constitutional laws are there to be followed diligently and not just voluntarily.


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