Catalans see Spanish education reform as language threat

Education minister's plan to focus on Spanish lessons seen as threat to region's unique culture

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 December, 2012, 4:34am


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Tensions between Spain's Catalonia region and the central government have flared over a national education reform that targets the sensitive issue of Catalan language teaching in schools.

Catalonia's leaders and media jumped on the defensive after Spanish Education Minister Jose Ignacio Wert proposed an education reform focusing on Spanish language teaching in all regions.

Wert proposed to stop obliging students in Catalonia to speak Catalan in order to study at universities there, and to make the region pay for private schooling in Spanish for children whose parents demanded it.

Defenders of the current system saw the plan as an assault on their cultural identity, which long pre-dates the modern Spanish state. Wert had already drawn criticism for his choice of words in October when he said the conservative Popular Party government in which he serves wanted to "Spanish-ise Catalan pupils".