Òmnium Cultural has this Friday given its evaluation of the language agreement announced yesterday by four Catalan political parties - the PSC, ERC, Junts and Comuns - to reform the Catalan law on language policy as a way of dealing with the Supreme Court-backed imposition of a 25% Spanish language quota in classrooms. The Catalan cultural entity's response came in a five-point statement, which avoided rejecting the pact between the parties that yesterday raised intense controversy, but demanded that "any agreement on the language should be consensual in the framework of Catalonia's National Language Pact".
The four parties yesterday presented a proposal to amend Catalonia's 1998 language policy law in a reform whose stated wish is to consolidate Catalan as a language "normally used as vehicular and for instruction" but adding that Spanish will also be used in teaching in the terms set down by the language projects for each school. The announcement sparked intense controversy, and was rejected by language advocacy organizations; it faced the opposition of the CUP, which accused the parties of trying to end the linguistic immersion policy; and caused division within the Junts group, which eventually withdrew from the agreement. Despite the avalanche of responses to the reform agreed by the four parties, Omnium had remained silent until today.
A consensus is fundamental
In a statement issued this morning, Òmnium emphasized that Catalan is the language used in schools in the Catalan education system and that the priority is to “protect and guarantee the Catalan school model”, which has a wide consensus. It acknowledges that a country-wide consensus across Catalonia is fundamental, but warns that it must not only be forged in the sphere of political parties, but also be transferred to civil society and the educational community, taking advantage of cross-cutting spaces such as the Somescola platform. For this reason, it calls for the agreement to be transferred to the Pacte Nacional per la Llengua - the National Language Pact - an intiative launched by the Catalan government at the start of this year to begin "a constructive debate so that the linguistic bases of the future of Catalonia and of the whole linguistic community are shared as widely as possible." As the Pact's website says, "to achieve this, it is necessary to count on the participation and commitment not only of the political forces, but also of the organisations, entities and the population at large."
Warning to Cambray's ministry
Òmnium has committed itself to continuing to defend the Catalan school model - with Catalan as it vertabral language - and, when necessary, in court. However, it also warns that “the Catalan education ministry must ensure that all schools have clear regulations to protect the Catalan school model, and the resources to guarantee their language projects”.
Finally, it points out that, "in accordance with the sociolinguistic reality of each setting, the school must be open to knowing and recognizing all the languages and cultures of the educational community."