Why a new school law divides Spain

In Spain are mobilizing parents and opposition to the reform of the school law, which has just cleared the most important hurdle in parliament – with a majority of one vote in the first reading. Protests are called for on Sunday in 30 Spanish cities. More than one and a half million signatures have already been collected. When it comes to education, language and religion, old fronts are breaking open in Spain and the country is divided.

The left-wing coalition’s bill has now managed to unite the divided right-wing opposition. In parliament, MPs from PP, Vox and Ciudadanos protested for minutes against the plan of socialist education minister Isabel Celaá, shouting “freedom, freedom”. The new law is “authoritarian” and “Stalinist”.

The fierce criticism of the reform, with which the government wants to ensure more equal opportunities, is sparked on several points. Above all, however, it is about the Spanish language, which, according to opponents of the law, threatens to lose its primacy in teaching. Only seven years ago the conservative PP had made Spanish the most important “vehicle language” in schools with an absolute majority – also in autonomous regions such as Catalonia, where Catalan is also recognized as an official regional language. In future, it should be left to the regional governments to decide what part which language will play.

In the state schools in Catalonia, the “Inmersión lingüística”, immersion in the Catalan language, is required by law. Practically all subjects are taught in Catalan. There are only a few hours for teaching Spanish language and literature. In everyday life in Catalonia, more than 50 percent speak Spanish, which almost as many call their identity language.

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