Several scandals in the Comunidad Valenciana have forced President Ximo Puig (PSOE) to replace his vice-president and ally from Compromìs, Mónica Oltra, after his education minister, who belongs to the same nationalist camp as Oltra, had to leave in May this year.
What is the message of the new Minister of Education, Raquel Tamarit? Maximum Valenciano in school!
„Regional Education Minister Raquel Tamarit has promised teachers' unions to increase the proportion of Valenciano as the lingua franca to the maximum allowed by law, which the families of the students have challenged in court.“
Given that in Catalonia the Catalan separatist government does not even abide by the constitution and the rulings of the highest Catalan and Spanish courts that pledge 25% Spanish, this demand by Tamarit seems almost modest and legal. But it is hardly so. From the fact that a minimum of 25% Spanish is to be guaranteed by the courts, one cannot automatically conclude that Valenciano should be extended to 75% for all. One can also conclude that the students taught in Valenciano should or must be given at least a minimum knowledge of Spanish.
„1. The native language (Lengua propria) of the Comunitat Valenciana is Valenciano.
2. Valenciano is the official language of the Comunitat Valenciana, as is Spanish, which is the official language of the State. Everyone has the right to know and use them and to be taught in Valenciano.
3. The Generalitat shall guarantee the normal and official use of the two languages, and shall adopt the necessary measures to ensure their knowledge.
4. No one may be discriminated against on the basis of their language.
5. Special protection and respect shall be given to the recovery of Valenciano.
6. The law shall establish the criteria for the application of the local language in administration and education.
7. The territories in which the use of one or other language predominates, as well as those which may be exempted from the teaching and use of the Comunitat Valenciana's own language, shall be defined by law.
„ 1. Castilian is the official Spanish language of the State. All Spaniards have the duty to know it and the right to use it.
2. The other Spanish languages will also be official in the respective Autonomous Communities in accordance with their Statutes.
3. The richness of the different linguistic modalities in Spain is a cultural heritage that will be the object of special respect and protection. “
I am not a lawyer and leave it up to each reader to interpret these provisions from the constitutions. The term „lengua propria“, which I have translated as „native language“, is striking.
I have not yet succeeded in obtaining a definitive translation of this term. One must probably understand this against the background that Franco had suppressed regional languages in Spain with the imposition of Spanish, and with the democratisation of Spain, the autonomous areas with regional languages wanted to give special protection to the use of their respective dialect, as is also expressed in Article 5 of the Valencian Constitution.
For any legal layman it can be seen that everyone has the duty to know (conocer) the Castilian language (Spanish), nowhere is it written that one has the duty to know a regional language. Everyone has the right to know a regional language. Everyone has the right to know and use both Spanish and the respective regional language without being discriminated against because of it.
It seems absolutely reasonable to me that there should be one official language in a state that everyone should know, because how else should democracy function? It seems just as reasonable to me that everyone has the right to communicate in their native language - especially with the state - because knowledge of another language is not the same as mastery of it. (I am well aware of this with my sometimes faulty English translations.)
From this point of view, it is absolutely intolerable that Valenciano is being imposed as a compulsory language in Valencian schools and that the use of Spanish is to be limited to 25%. The demand to establish Valenciano as the lingua franca is also clearly against the Valencian constitution. They are both official languages, Spanish and Valenciano, and the administration should communicate with citizens in whichever language they prefer.
At school, it must be the parents who decide on the language of instruction for their children, not the state, not the government, not the parties.
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