SHARE
COPY LINK

EDUCATION

CONFIRMED: 25 percent of school lessons in Catalonia must be taught in Spanish

At least 25 percent of classes will have to be taught in Spanish in schools in Catalonia, following the latest ruling by the region's Supreme Court which quashes regional government appeals to stick to the full-Catalan language model.

Schools in Catalonia must have 25% of classes in Spanish
Supreme Court rules that 25 percent of classes in Catalonia must be taught in Spanish. Photo: Josep LAGO / AFP

The divisive matter of Catalan vs Spanish for official matters in Catalonia is making headlines again, this time with regard to education.

Catalonia’s Supreme Court on Monday rejected the appeal from the Catalan Generalitat against an earlier ruling that required a quarter of lessons to be taught in castellano (Spanish) in schools in the northeastern region.

This means that the decision by the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) becomes final and puts an end to the linguistic immersion model that all classes apart from Spanish class and other languages such as English, be taught in Catalan.

The Minister of Education of the Catalan Generalitat government Josep González-Cambray appeared on Tuesday afternoon together with the Minister of Culture Natalia Garriga to report on the court’s decision, which he has defined as a “new frontal attack by the judges on the educational system in Catalonia”.

González-Cambray also sent a message to Catalan schools, assuring them that despite the new situation, there will be “no change” in the current system. “The centres must continue working as before and do not have to make any changes,” he said.

The minister has pointed out that the fact that “it is a judge who arbitrarily determines the percentage of hours that are necessary to learn a language is an anomaly and a contempt for education professionals”.

“School in Catalonia will be in Catalan,” he said at the end of his message to the schools.

The first ruling on this issue was back in 2014  

The Catalan model of linguistic immersion has been questioned by the Justice for years and in 2014, the TSJC already established that the Department of Education should ensure a minimum of 25 percent of classes in Spanish.

At that time, the ruling referred to just eight students but stated that this was the rule to be followed when a student requests classes in Spanish.

The 2014 ruling was the first to set this percentage after several courts urged the Government of Catalonia to teach more classes in Spanish, although without specifying the percentage.

Later, in December 2020 the TSJC issued another ruling that obliged the entire Catalan educational system to teach 25 percent of its classes in Spanish, a ruling which the Catalan government appealed and now the Supreme Court has rejected.

How many students requested to be taught in Spanish?

According to the Catalan Minister of Education, there have “only been 80” families who have requested classes in Spanish since 2005 and he has denied that there is a linguistic conflict in Catalan schools.

This is despite the fact that only 14 percent of secondary school students and 35 percent of primary school students speak Catalan in the playground, according to data from the Llengua Platform. 

Even though families may not have formally requested it, in the capital of Barcelona, where 25 percent of the population of Catalonia live, the University of Barcelona, says that 98 percent of those speak Spanish and only around 50-60 percent speak Catalan.

The reaction from the Catalan government and pro-Catalan associations 

The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, has described the Supreme Court’s decision as a “very serious attack” and a “lack of respect for teachers”. “Catalan should not be touched be touched in schools. The immersion model that we have is a guarantee of social cohesion and equal opportunities in the country,” he added.

Aragonès assured schools that he will find “all possible ways” to overcome the situation and that he sees it as “fundamental” to increase the use of Catalan in schools further.  

The Òmnium Cultural Catalan association has asked that disobedience not be ruled out to defend linguistic immersion after the Supreme Court’s decision.

The Catalan Civil Society, on the other hand, celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision, which they have defined as “a historic triumph for equal opportunities in the face of a reactionary model.”

The reaction from the Spanish government

The Spanish government believes that the judgment of the TSJC “must be carried out” like all sentences, “because it has been ruled upon”, but it will not expressly request this to happen because it believes that the TSJC itself should request compliance.

The Ministry of Education and the Ministers of Justice and Territorial Policy, Pilar Llop and Isabel Rodríguez said on Wednesday that once the ruling is final, they maintain, it is up to the sentencing court to see it through and not the government.

Around 8 million people are reported to speak Catalan, one of Spain’s six official languages. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

HIKING

Eight of the best hikes in Catalonia

Long-term Catalonia resident and hiking enthusiast Esme Fox shares her tips and knowledge of some of the best routes in the northeastern region, with stunning waterfalls, volcanoes and lakes on the itinerary. 

Eight of the best hikes in Catalonia

Almost every region in Spain offers a great array of hiking routes, but perhaps some of the best and most diverse can be found in the northeastern region of Catalonia, where you have the Pyrenees in the north, the coast to the east and countless natural parks in the interior. 

Camí de Ronda
The longest and most picturesque of all the routes in Catalonia is the Camí de Ronda or Camino de Ronda. It runs all the way along the coast from the border with France down to the border with the Valencia region. Passing through quaint coastal villages, along clifftops and even through tunnels, the route was originally created by smugglers who used to take their loot from one bay to the next. Later, these routes were joined together to form one long one by the civil guard, in order to control and catch the criminals.

The trail runs for a whopping 583km throughout the whole region, but the most spectacular and well-known sections of the hike lie within the Costa Brava, which starts from Blanes and runs all the way up to Portbou on the French border. This part is around 220km long and can be done in 12 stages, taking a total of 12 days. It’s not necessary to do the whole route, however, you could easily take a single stage and make a day trip out of it. It’s best done in early summer before the crowds arrive or in September when it’s still warm enough to swim along the way, but all the holidaymakers have gone home.  

The Camino de Ronda takes you right along the coast. Photo: Esme Fox
 

Mont-Rebei Gorge
The Congost de Mont-Rebei gorge is one of the most striking in the whole of Catalonia, where incredible aquamarine waters run between dramatic ravines and lofty cliff tops and vultures soar overhead. It’s a popular route and is moderately challenging with several ascents and dips walking along narrow pathways or staircases clinging to the edge of the rock. It’s situated approximately a three-hour drive west of Barcelona on the border with Aragón. You can choose to hike longer or shorter sections of the route, but the main and most popular part is around 12km there and back.

Hike along the sides of a gorge at Mont Rebei. Photo: Ramon Perucho / Pixabay

Ruta dels 7 Gorgs
Near the small village of Campdevánol​​​ in the province of Girona, close to the foothills of the Pyrenees, you’ll find one of the most thrilling hikes on our list – the route of the seven waterfalls. It’s exactly like it sounds, a hiking route between seven different waterfalls. It’s best to go in summer as you can swim in each of the falls, letting the icy water from the Pyrenees cool you down on those hot Spanish days. It’s a circular route of just 10km, with an extra 6km if you’re walking from Campdevánol​​​ train station, but it could end up taking all day if you plan on swimming in each. The route is relatively easy, but there are some tricky steep parts getting down and up again from some of the waterfalls. Because it’s so popular, the number of people allowed in per day is limited and you must pay an eco-tax fee of €5 per person from June to November.

Take a dip in the Campdevánol waterfalls to cool down. Photo: Alberto-g-rovi / WikiCommons
 

Camí del Vi
Catalonia’s wine route lies within the Penedès, an area known for producing excellent wines and cavas and home to some of the best wineries in the region. It starts in the town of Vilafranca del Penedès, the capital of the wine region and runs for 3.5km, taking around three hours to complete in total, there and back. From the tourist office, you’ll walk through the town and then out into the vineyards themselves. Along the way are eight different stations where you will learn about wine production and the life cycle of the vine, as well as the different varieties of grapes that grow in the area. There are plenty of bodegas (wineries) near by where you can stop for a drink too. 

Hike the wine route in Catalonia. Photo: Esme Fox

Ruta de los 7 Lagos del Circ de Colomers
Between the National Park of Aigüestortes and the Vall d’Aran, just went of Andorra in the high Pyrenees lies the route of the seven lakes. It’s a total of 15km, but there are taxis that can take you from the car park to the beginning of the route and back, taking it down to just 7km. One of the most spectacularly beautiful hiking routes, as the name suggests, it passes seven glassy mountain lakes hemmed in by towering peaks and verdant forests. It’s of medium difficulty level, meaning it’s best if you have a bit of experience with hiking in the mountains.  

This hiking route takes you past seven mountain lakes. Photo: rodolfo7 / Pixabay

Ruta por los volcanes de la Garrotxa
Just north of Girona lies La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park, which offers one of the best examples of volcanic landscapes on the Iberian Peninsula, featuring 40 ancient volcanic cones and around 20 old lava flows. One of the best ways to explore it is via the various hiking routes throughout the park. The best is the circular hike from La Fageda d’en Jordà to the Santa Margarida volcano and on to El Croscat volcano, which is 12km and takes just over four hours complete.

Hike through the land of ancient volcanoes in La Garrotxa. Photo: Carquinyol / WikiCommons

Subida al Pedraforca
The most challenging hike on our list is the ascent of Mount Pedraforca, located in the high Pyrenees, just below Andorra. It’s one of Catalonia’s most iconic-looking mountains – resembling a pitchfork with a small dip in between two soaring pointed peaks, one measuring 2444m and the other 2506m. The starting points generally begin at the Mirador de Gersolet viewpoint, but there are several routes to reach the top. It takes between five and seven hours to complete, depending on your experience but is best avoided in winter and early spring from December to April when the snow can make it even more difficult.

Challenge yourself with the ascent of Pedraforca. Photo: Josep Monter Martinez / Pixabay

Ruta de Carros de Foc
Another hike within the mighty National Park of Aigüestortes is the grand Carros de Foc or Chariots of Fire. It’s a circular route of 65km and takes between five to seven days to complete between nine different mountain refuges, where you can stay the night. The route is characterised by high mountains and large granite boulders, as well as several sparkling mountain lakes. You’ll need some experience and stamina to complete this one. 

Hike the Ruta de Carros de Foc. Photo: Ferran Ventura / Unsplash
SHOW COMMENTS