World, Europe

Catalan officials call for defying court ruling that says 25% of classes must be in Spanish

Leader of conservative Popular Party calls for Madrid to take over region’s education system

Alyssa McMurtry   | 24.11.2021
Catalan officials call for defying court ruling that says 25% of classes must be in Spanish

OVIEDO, Spain

Catalan officials are calling on schools to defy a Supreme Court ruling that forces 25% of classes in the northeastern region of Spain to be taught in Spanish.

“We want you to continue working exactly the same as you are today,” Catalan Education Minister Josep Gonzalez-Cambray wrote in a letter to school directors on Wednesday.

In the same letter, the minister called the ruling “a serious attack on the Catalan educational model from a court that is far removed and unaware of the sociolinguistic reality of our educational centers.”

Catalan language has co-official status in Spain. But the Supreme Court said that the use of Spanish is “residual” in many Catalan schools, even though the law stipulates that students have the right to receive education in both Spanish and Catalan.

Pere Aragones, leader of Catalonia’s separatist government, called on Spain’s central government to defend the Catalan education system.

“Catalan, as long as Catalonia is part of the Spanish state, must be protected,” he said on Wednesday.

Yet, Spain’s progressive central government has made no indication that it will back the Catalan government’s stance on the issue. Instead, Justice Minister Pilar Llop insisted that the Supreme Court decision is final and the Catalan government must comply.

Meanwhile, Pablo Casado, leader of the right-wing Popular Party, said the government should take control of Catalonia’s education system.

He said the government can count on his support if it wants to activate the famous Article 155 of the Spanish constitution.

In 2017, the article was used by the Popular Party to trigger direct Spanish rule over Catalonia as the region’s government attempted to unilaterally break away from Spain.

Although schooling is mostly in Catalan, Spanish is the first language of the majority of the region’s residents. Catalan is the mother tongue of just 31.5% of those living in Catalonia, whereas 52.7% are native Spanish speakers, according to 2019 data from the Catalan Institute of Statistics.

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