Away from the political hubbub generated by the ruling of the Supreme Court of November 23, which makes the sentence of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) firm that obliges the Generalitat to teach 25 percent in Spanish in schools, it is the opinion of the citizens; a parallel reality, oblivious to partisan disputes and interests, and ignored by the authorities.
While the Government, the institutions and entities located in the orbit of the independence movement interpret the ruling of the Catalan court like a political attack against the current educational model, and show consensus around the defense of the autonomous language, a survey carried out in October in Catalonia in which, among others
Questions citizens are asked about the proportion of languages that they understand would be optimal in teaching, reveals that the vast majority, including secessionists, would agree with increase the presence of Spanish in the classroom.
The survey, carried out between the 5th and 25th of last October on a sample of 1,500 citizens –by the Cotesa Statistical Studies Area–, and which is part of an investigation on populism, unfolded in Andalusia and Catalonia, coordinated by the political scientist Manuel Arias Maldonado from the University of Malaga and José Javier Olivas, A researcher at the National University of Distance Education (UNED) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), he also reveals what is, in the opinion of the Catalans, the optimal linguistic model for education.
With one of the surveys with the broadest data collected on this question, the study shows that the average Catalan is in favor of a multilingual school model, away from immersion in Catalan and with a greater presence of Spanish and English. «Paradoxically, the criticized ruling of the TSJC of last December that forces to modify the current model to give Castilian more presence in the classrooms seems to be much closer to the preference of the average Catalan than the position adopted by the Generalitat and many Catalan organizations that have expressed their discomfort during these last weeks of conflict, “says researcher José Javier Olivas in statements to ABC.
More than 13 percent
The results of the study are compelling. To the question: ‘If you could decide the distribution of teaching hours in education, what percentage would you attribute to each of the following languages: Catalan, Spanish, English and other languages?’, Eight out of ten respondents – 82 per One hundred – responded that they would be in favor of exceeding the current percentage of Spanish in the classroom (13 percent with the current immersion system). If we point to a specific model, the survey reveals that the average Catalan advocates that 48 percent of the teaching hours be taught in the autonomous language, 26 percent in Spanish –One point above the percentage set by the judgment of the TSJC–, 19 percent in English, and seven percent in other languages.
“The data show that the reality that some political forces expose regarding support for the immersion system does not match reality,” emphasizes Olivas. The survey also confirms that the extreme positions regarding the presence of each of the official languages in the model they only represent a minority. Only 20 of the 1,500 respondents supported a school entirely in Catalan and six supported a monolingual schooling only in Spanish.
Sovereignists, more Spanish
If we focus on the voters of the different political formations, the distribution of linguistic preferences varies, although in all of them Spanish gains weight in the school curriculum. The voters of the pro-independence parties or those in favor of a self-determination referendum –ERC, Junts, En Comú Podem and CUP– defend that between 19% and 23% of the teaching is done in Spanish, above the current 13 percent.
In addition, the voters of these parties are not in favor of the immersion system – all subjects are taught in Catalan, except for Spanish Language and Literature and Foreign Language – but rather they wish that Catalan is used only slightly more than half the time, between 50 and 57 percent of the hours, and that the rest be divided (in this order) between teaching in Spanish, English and other languages.
«It is very significant that not even the electors of the parties that are now campaigning to preserve the linguistic immersion model defend this system, “says the promoter of the survey.
These results open, according to the UNED expert, “a window of optimism so that Catalonia can move towards a future multilingual school without ranking languages, that is, without, as is currently the case, in this case the autonomous language, being considered the official and use language, and the other, Spanish, the secondary one, relegated to speaking it in the family and social environment » .
To your understanding, Catalonia has gone from a bilingual situation to one of diglossia, in which one official language overrides the other. Olivas explains why the term fits well the situation prescribed by those who oppose 25 percent of hours in Spanish. “This diglossia, more than pedagogical or social elevator value, has a value of ‘nation building’ – national construction. It is doubtful that it contributes to a more equitable society with fewer social inequalities, “he says.
Macro-polls avoid it
José Javier Olivas attributes the “apparent” ignorance about social reality to the absence of questions about linguistic preference in social studies such as those of the Center for Opinion Studies of the Generalitat. «These macro-studies promoted by the nationalists they do not surprisingly include the question on the percentage of languages in school. They are not interested, “he says. Neither does the CIS ask about this matter.
Beyond political considerations, the results of this survey show a clear divorce between the alleged unity and the consensus around the language that the nationalist leaders proclaim in their speeches and the opinion of the Catalans, including their voters. As Olivas added in a recent opinion article published in ‘El País’, together with the professors of the Autonomous University of Madrid, Andrés Santana and José Rama, the Catalan immersion fits the motto ‘Everything for the people, but without the people’.