The Government will not ask, for now, the judges to force the Generalitat to introduce 25% of Spanish in Catalan schools. This has been indicated to elDiario.es by sources from the Ministry of Education, who have explained that they will wait for the response of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) to the plan outlined by the Government to comply with the ruling before anticipating any step.
The judges affirm that 25% of Castilian does not harm families that request immersion
Today, only the State Attorney, which depends on the Government, can urge the TSJC to order the execution of the sentence, since it is the only actor in the legal case as a result of the appeal presented in 2015 by the Government of Mariano Rajoy against linguistic immersion in Catalan. The judges agreed with the initiative of the PP Executive, but now the Government of PSOE and United We Can choose not to set fire to one of the most sensitive issues in Catalonia in the courts at a time of renewal of the political consensus around languages in teaching.
Parallel to the agreement between PSC, ERC, Junts and the comuns that for the first time recognizes Spanish as a language of school use along with Catalan, the Ministry of Education presented the TSJC last Friday with a plan that, in its opinion, considers it fulfilled the 25% sentence. In its response to the court, however, the Generalitat has avoided setting a percentage of classes in Spanish as the ruling makes explicit, understanding that it goes against pedagogical criteria.
According to the Government, the proposal to modify the Language Policy Law registered by ERC, PSC, Junts and the comuns; the new linguistic decree prepared by the Ministry of Education; and a survey on the sociolinguistic reality of Catalan centers commissioned from the University of Barcelona (UB) guarantee compliance with the ruling without having to specifically set a 25% level of Spanish in class. Both the survey and the new norm and the linguistic decree have not been executed, but in a very initial phase of processing, although the modification of the law will foreseeably be approved in a month.
The Government’s response is insufficient for the entities opposed to linguistic immersion, which this Monday began a judicial offensive to urge the TSJC to enforce the sentence. But unlike the State Attorney, all of them must first prove to the court that they have standing to claim the application of the ruling.
It so happens that two of these entities, Hablemos Español and Coexistence Cívica Catalana, have admitted in their brief before the TSJC that it is “doubtful” that they will be accepted because the Supreme Court has previously rejected their legitimacy. To overcome this legal obstacle and urge the execution of the ruling, the JUCIL Civil Guard association has argued that when the agents are assigned to Catalonia they do not have schools where they can educate their children with a “guarantee” of a minimum of classes in Spanish. Despite the fact that the political parties cannot claim the forced execution of the sentence, Vox has also joined the entities opposed to immersion.
According to legal sources, the court can accept this argument, but they add that it should be limited to the centers where the children of the soldiers study, not to the whole of the Catalan educational system. Urging the mandatory application of 25% in all classrooms in Catalonia could only be done by the State Attorney’s Office, add the same sources.
The Ministry: “We are in times of Justice”
From the Ministry of Education it is emphasized that right now this is not the judicial scenario. “After having addressed the Generalitat to the TSJC, it is up to the latter to express its opinion. The Government respects the independence of Justice, the separation of powers, and judicial times, and we are still in times of Justice”, express sources from the ministry led by Pilar Alegría, who refuse to anticipate their steps in case the TSJC does not accept the document from the Generalitat.
By not making a move at the moment, the Government saves having to specify who would be in charge of formally executing the 25%. One of the entities opposed to immersion, the Assembly for the Bilingual School (AEB) specifies in its letter to the TSJC that the judges should address the directors of each center to urge them to comply yes or yes with the 25% of Spanish, which implies teach another core subject in that language in addition to the Spanish language and literature class.
That same approach was made by the Prosecutor’s Office a few weeks ago in the decree by which it filed a complaint against the Government for the case of the girl from Canet de Mar (Barcelona) whose family requested 25% of Castilian individually. In his resolution, the superior prosecutor of Catalonia, Francisco Bañeres stated that the linguistic projects of the schools are a “clear and unavoidable” competence of their directors, and consequently the directors are in charge of applying the 25% if a family requests it. without having to go to court again. For the Public Prosecutor’s Office, unless the Generalitat assumes powers over linguistic projects, it is the directors who are exposed to criminal consequences if they do not abide by 25% of Spanish in the classroom.
The legislative modifications proposed by the Minister of Education, Josep González Cambray, do not assume any competence of the directors and leave it in the hands of the centers to establish the use of Spanish as a school language “in the terms established by their linguistic projects” and based on the sociolinguistic reality of each school. In other words, it is possible to maintain a majority of classes in Catalan in schools with more Spanish-speaking students or with other languages as mother tongues, and modulate immersion with more Spanish in areas of the community with a Catalan-speaking majority. This has not prevented Ciudadanos from denouncing the minister before the Prosecutor’s Office, understanding that the approach to comply with the judicial sentence is an attempt to disobey it.