The Catalan government promotes the teaching of the Arabic language and Moroccan culture in all schools in the region while relegating the Spanish language to the background. This new reform is denounced by the associations which ask to rectify the situation.
According to data from the Ministry of Education, 138 public centers teach Arabic language and culture under a “program whose pilot phase was launched in the 2018-2019 school year.” “Thanks to this program, pupils of primary and secondary education learn the Arabic language and increase their knowledge of Moroccan culture”, explains the Catalan government, stressing that “the initiative also contributes to developing school and socio-cultural integration pupils of Moroccan origin ”.
The associations for the defense of Spanish in Catalan classrooms do not approve of this school program, which penalizes young people enrolled in public schools. They are not against the teaching of a non-official language like Arabic in Catalonia, but rather denounce the fact that these young people cannot receive courses in Spanish such as mathematics, social sciences, natural sciences, religion, arts education or physical education.
“Teaching a foreign language is not bad in itself, but if at the same time Spanish is relegated to second place as a linguistic subject and as a lingua franca, those in charge show their fanaticism and their evil”, explains to Ok Diario, Gloria Lago, president of the Hablemos Español association. She denounces an “exclusion” of the Spanish language and deplores that the pupils do not have the chance to acquire knowledge in their mother tongue “.
In the same vein, Ana Losada, president of the Assembly for a bilingual school in Catalonia, also maintains that the problem does not arise since it concerns voluntary classes, but observes that it is inconsistent “that the ‘school in Catalonia promotes languages that are not official and that official languages, such as Spanish, are deliberately excluded from teaching in public schools ”. This “extremely serious” and “totally illegal” situation “violates the rights of learners”, she adds, regretting that “Spanish, the official language and the majority language, is excluded from education”.
Both officials agree that the solution lies in making both languages official. “In all countries with more than one official language on their territory, linguistic co-officiality applies, which allows for the choice of a language for teaching. This is what we offer at Hablemos Español, ”suggests Lago.