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President Armengol and the regional education minister, Martí March, yesterday presented the outline decree on the teaching of foreign languages in Balearic schools. Under this, the use of a foreign language for actual teaching will be voluntary and will apply across the board from infant to secondary and baccalaureate levels.

The decree, says the government, is to be developed through consensus and agreements that have taken account of the diversity of schools. "It will come from dialogue and respect for the educational community and will be forwarded to the Education Board as it could be open to being further improved," said the president.

The education minister observed: "Consensus will not be sought at the end but from the outset. It will not be obligatory but of a voluntary nature, always in agreement with the schools, their specific resources and their independence."

Maria Alorda, the director-general for teacher training, pointed out that in the event of a foreign language being used for teaching, the language abilities of the teachers would be level B2 or higher at infant and primary levels and C1 or higher for secondary schools and vocational training.

Because of the voluntary nature, March accepted that there will be schools that don't have teaching in a foreign language. "If they decide not to, then this will be respected. Education needs a progressive process but not experiments." He added, though, that if targets for language ability are not being met after defined periods, work will be done with specific schools. "We don't want unevenness across schools, but if we work towards a universal standardisation, this will be done from the point of view of individual schools' autonomy."

Schools will still need to meet minimum requirements under the decree and to ensure teaching in Catalan and Castellano as well as the teaching of a foreign language. For the government, above all though, it is to be adopted without there being the mistakes that were made under the previous government and which led to a great deal of protest.