0

Palma.—Partido Popular regional government spokesman and Education Minister Rafael Bosch said yesterday in a weekly report that such a law about giving equal status to both national languages is not new as it has already been decreed by a mainland High Court.

All the Balearic government is doing he said is applying an existing law. “As the Balearics is a bi-lingual community, we can't tolerate a situation where one official language is marginalised at the expense of another,” he said. “There are some schools where Castillian Spanish is treated as a foreign language, with between only three to five hours being devoted to it a week.” “So we're not introducing any new legislation, merely making sure that the High Court ruling is adhered to.” He explained that although the ruling had been accepted constitutionally in the Balearic Islands, there had been a tendency to let the rigour of the legislation slip.

Bosch claimed that although “perhaps not all”, the vast majority of public schools in the region had adopted Catalan as the only valid language for education, sidelining those whose mother tongue was Castillian Spanish.

He said that as a result of the linguistic policies of the previous Socialist coalition government, the letter of the law of the High Court judgment was being ignored, and that it was the duty of the new regional government to reassert the legislation in its proper form. Bosch argued that had both languages really been treated with equality during previous Balearic governments, Catalan would not have assumed such dominance in the education system.

Clarifying his position to the media later in the day, Bosch claimed that so far as this academic year was concerned, he had never guaranteed that people could have their children educated in the language of their choice but ultimately that is what the government want to see.

In fact, he said that with a new school term beginning on Monday, it was too late to bring in measures to reassert the High Court ruling over equality of status of Catalan and Castellano but the regional government was going to continue working on the issue over the next few months so that pressure could be brought to bear on schools by the time the next academic year comes round.

Part of the procedure that the Education ministry is to adopt includes what Bosch referred to as “minimum levels” of joint linguistic status. Just what these levels are will be put before School Consultative Committees before being presented to the regional government for approval.

Bosch pointed out in his report that the reinstatement of bi-lingual education had been part of the Partido Popular (PP)election manifesto and that from the first moment of its returning to power, the new government had made plain its intention to “even the score” so far as the importance of both languages is concerned.