Following the last-minute entry into force on Monday of the Catalan government's decree law responding to the court ruling imposing a 25% Spanish language quota in schools, this Tuesday morning the executive sent schools the instructions that they must follow on the decree law. It consists of three points that aim to guarantee that Catalan is the vehicular language in schools and make it clear that the Catalan department of education is responsible for any legal consequences. First of all, the directors of the school centres have a period of thirty days to answer a one-page questionnaire consisting of seven yes/no questions. The questions are related to the use of the Catalan language in each centre. For example, if the school uses Catalan as the language to welcome all new students. Where schools answer one of the questions with a 'no', it means that the centre does not comply with the decree law and will have the whole of the following year to adapt to it. If all questions are answered with a yes, any responsibility then falls on the Catalan education ministry. The other two instructions are for the teachers of that school to guide the school's language project and for the inspectors visiting the centre to also ensure that it is done in this way.
The questions that each centre must answer are as follows:
- Does the school language project foresee that Catalan, as Catalonia's own language, is the language normally used as a vehicular language and language of learning?
- Does the language project envisage that Catalan, as Catalonia's own language, is the language of normal use in the reception of new students?
- Does the language project envisage a curricular and educational use of both Catalan and Spanish?
- Does the language project incorporate criteria that are exclusively pedagogical and from a global, integrative and cross-curricular approach to determine the presence and handling of the official languages?
- Does the language project take into account the diagnosis of the sociolinguistic reality of the centre?
- Does the language project take into account the results of periodic tests and evaluations, both internal and eternal, in the different educational stages?
- Does the language project avoid the use of percentages in the teaching and use of languages?
This, then, is an expression of the new legal framework created by the Catalan government in which Catalan is the "vehicular language" in schools, while Spanish is defined as a "curricular language". With Tuesday marking the deadline imposed by the High Court of Catalonia for the execution of its ruling on a 25% quota of classes in Spanish in all Catalan schools, the decree law approved yesterday by Pere Aragonès's executive emphasizes the "inapplicability of numerical parameters, proportions or percentages" in the use of languages, and insists that it is the Catalan ministry of education and, ultimately, the minister Cambray himself, who assumes the responsibility for the language project of each centre.
The decree law approved by the government is in addition to the new law that is being processed in Parliament and a further decree on the implementation of the education law that is also underway. On Monday, the Catalan government spokesperson, Patrícia Plaja, stated that the aim of the government was to “approve a stable regulatory framework that guarantees the reaching of competency in the use of the official languages, according to the needs of the students”. For this reason, she also said that the vehicular language in the schools is Catalan and that the language projects of each school must take into account their own sociolinguistic reality and diversity of students, and ensure that at the end of teaching all children achieve oral and written competency in both Catalan and Spanish.