Contribution on the current situation of galician in the educational system


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Contribution on the current situation of galician in the educational system

  1. 1. Contribution on the current situation of Galician in the Educational SystemCharter for Regional or Minority Languages Coordinadora Galega de Equipos de Normalización e Dinamización Lingüística
  2. 2. Contribution of Galicia’s Association for the Coordination of LanguageStandardization and Improvement Teams (LSIT) on the current situationof Galician in the Educational System for the report on Galicia’s level ofcompliance of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages(ECRML)0-IntroductionGalicia’s Association for the Coordination of Language Standardization andImprovement Teams (GACLSIT) is a group formed by LSIT (now called GLIT_GalicianLanguage Improvement Teams_) working in public, private and subsidized schools inGalicia. GACLSIT was created in April 2009 in order to coordinate and encourage theactivities of the teams as well as giving them a public voice. GACLSIT is formed byteachers with a wide range of ideologies united by a common language goal: the socialstandardization of Galician. GACLSIT is a non-profit organization made up exclusivelyof non -paid volunteers.The Language Standardization Teams (LST) were created by the Education Authoritiesin 1991 in order to promote the use of Galician in Galicia’s schools. In 2007 they cameto be called Language Standardization and Improvement Teams (GACLSIT). Finally, theyhave been referred to as _Galician Language Improvement Teams (GLIT)1 since 2010.1 The teams are formed by a coordinating teacher, in addition to, at least, three other teachers, andthree students (except for primary education), plus a non-teaching member of staff. Coordinadora Galega de Equipos de Normalización e Dinamización Lingüística
  3. 3. 1. The situation of Galician in the Educational System after the latest change in the Law (79/2010 Decree of May 10 on Multilingualism in Galicia’s schools)This decree broke the political consensus concerning the standardization of Galician insociety and, particularly, within the educational system, which had materialized in2004 when all political parties approved in the Galician Parliament the General Plan forthe Social Standardization of the Galician Language (GPSGL)2. Arising from this GeneralPlan, Decree 124/20073 was approved. This decree was in force when the Third Reporton the level of compliance of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages(ECRML) was written, but was changed for a much more regressive one whichendangers not only the survival of the language, but also the acquisition of a basiccompetence in Galician by the younger generations.The Decree currently in force proved extremely controversial and was even appealedby several organizations. According to GACLSIT a step in the wrong direction was takenfrom the planning stage in the attempts to standardize Galician in the schools. Thedecree is pernicious because: a) The sociolinguistic reality of Galicia has been disregarded, as the two coexisting languages are not in the same situation. b) The afore-mentioned Decree 79/2010 does not aim to further advance the improvement of Galician, but to repeal the previous decree (124/2007) for ideological motives, not pedagogical ones. Decree 124/2007 had proved effective in bringing about positive change as shown in the Third Report on2 GPSGL concludes that Decree 247/95_aiming at the standardization of Galician in the school system_had fallen short of reaching the goals it had been approved for- i.e. full linguistic competence in Galicianby the end of the compulsory education, and a growing number of young users of the language.3 Decree 124/2007 ensured education in Galician for children between 0 and 3 as well as for primaryschool children whose mother tongue was Galician, and established a minimum of a third of total classtime in Galician in predominantly Spanish speaking areas with the intention of spreading gradually theuse of Galician. As to primary and secondary education, both compulsory and post –compulsory, itaimed at 50% class time in Galician, at least. It meant a gain compared to the previous decree(247/1995), which had been considered a first step in the use of Galician in the schools. It put intopractice legislation (3/1983) on language standardization (LS), which established Galician as the regularlanguage in the educational administration as well as requiring a minimum of two subjects being taughtin Galician. Coordinadora Galega de Equipos de Normalización e Dinamización Lingüística
  4. 4. ECRML_ but the results of its implementation were not evaluated and no evidence about its inadequacy was ever put forward. The new decree pretends to solve a problem which is supposed to have been caused by the previous decree. However, this hypothetical problem has gone unnoticed by all member of GACLSIT, despite the fact that we are in daily contact with the schools. When writing the new document, they insist on justifying the need for a new decree using the following arguments: a) A reference is made to Decree 124/2007 as to not being in line with the law, according to Galicia’s Government Advisory Body, based on partial and biased readings of the report of the afore-mentioned body. In fact several recommendations by the Advisory Body had been incorporated into the final decree. b) It criticizes the previous model because it failed to establish allot minimum teaching hours in Spanish, the dominant language, accusing it of breaking the language balance. It says and I quote: Decree 124/2007, June 28, was oriented in order to achieve the required command of Galician in compulsory education, failing to establish a minimum number of subjects in Spanish,. This may break the language balance which has been in place in Galicia since the beginning of the regional government, and accepted and supported by all Galicians (DOGA_Offical Gazette number 97, Tuesday, May 25 2010, page 9242) c) Although their explanatory statement seems to support the Law for the Standardization of Galician, the text undermines it since it imposes restrictions on the use of Galician (the minority language) as both a social language and the language of the educational administration, and sets a minimum amount of Spanish (the hegemonic language) d) It is a decree unlike all others because it has not been conceived to promote Galician in the schools. Instead it has been labeled as The Decree of Multilingualism opening the gate for a third of the subjectsCoordinadora Galega de Equipos de Normalización e Dinamización Lingüística
  5. 5. being taught in a foreign language, namely English,. The remaining hours are to be equitably shared by Spanish and Galician. In practice, it means a reduction in the number of hours of the minority language as most of the schools adhering to the Bilingual Programme use English to teach subjects that were supposed to be taught in Galician, leaving Galician for the subjects considered by the parents as “less important” or those which don’t require a textbook, i.e. Music or PH e) The anti-standardization stance is such, that the word “Standardization” in the Language Standardization (and Improvement) Teams is dropped. We are now simply “Galician Language Improvement Teams” Several facts demonstrate that this new decree is causing a regression of the use of Galician in the schools. The repercussions are already tangible: 1. Education for children between 3 and 6 : The decree prevents the linguistic goals as set out in the Curriculum from being achieved, as it fails to regulate or even allow schools to design pedagogic strategies aimed at the mastering of both official languages. The dominant language is imposed, making impossible for the minority language to achieve its goals. Children become proficient in the language they are familiar with, becoming extremely difficult to learn Galician in Spanish speaking environments. This situation stems from Decree 124/2007 where the language used by the teacher was determined by the school considering two factors: the dominant language in the area_based on data provided by Galicia’s Sociolinguistic Map, Galicia’s Institute for Statistics etc_and feedback from the students’ parents. Now only the parents’ feedback is considered when deciding about the language4. They label it as freedom of4 The first year this law was implemented, a survey of questionable validity was used. Now a new“Coexistance Law” has been passed in order to give legal cover to any survey being employed todetermine which language must be used in the schools. Coordinadora Galega de Equipos de Normalización e Dinamización Lingüística
  6. 6. choice5, which is both misleading and disingenuous. Several considerations are overlooked such as the possibility of the parents’ feedback being at odds with the teachers’ own findings based on their classroom experience, that the family speak a third language, that father and mother use different languages, or the fact that linguistic prejudices may affect the parents’ responses. Thus choosing the language before the enrolment process of 3 year-old children through a survey leaves out many families whose mother tongue is Galician. The new law indicates that “the students who lack a sufficient command of the dominant language will receive individual attention”. This is a segregating policy which beats the fundamental purpose of children’s education. 2. Primary School: The number of hours taught in Galician is cut. The students are given the freedom of breaking the pedagogic planning of the subjects as far as language usage is concerned and opens up the possibility of Galician being limited to the Galician Language lessons, as English substitutes Galician in subjects supposed to be taught in Galician according to the decree. 3. Secondary School: The number of hours in Galician is cut. It becomes compulsory to teach two subjects in Galego (Science/Biology and Geology; History and Geography) and three in Spanish (Mathematics, Technology, Physics and Chemistry). This means Galician is deliberately excluded from the scientific and technological fields as well as increasing the number of hours for subjects that most parents consider fundamental for their children’s education. 4. The fact that students may use the language of their choice in the classroom marks a retreat not only when compared to Decree 124/2007, but even to Decree 247/1995, which stated that “an effort should be made” to encourage students to use Galician in those classes taught in Galician. The Law for the Standarization of Galician is again undermined since according to this piece of5 Many families have expressed their dissatisfaction with these regressive policies, especially thoseconcerning the education of children between 3 and 6. Using the slogan “freedom of choice for fathersand mothers”, they shortchange the Galician speaking families. Research shows _the one carried out bythe teachers’ Union STEG is one of them that up to 40% of parents who chose Galician for their childrenwere ignored. Most of them claim that this policy is making their children lose contact with the moredisadvantaged and discredited language. Coordinadora Galega de Equipos de Normalización e Dinamización Lingüística
  7. 7. legislation a competence in both languages must be guaranteed by the end of the compulsory education. 5. Exemption from Galician: those students coming from other regions of Spain who attend the 5th year of Primary Education or above will be exempted from the language for two academic years. However, no exemption is offered to students with no previous knowlege of Spanish6 (6). 6. Shortage of teaching materials in Galician. The new decree, although it is supposed to implement the Law for the standardization of the Language, promotes teaching materials in Spanish and English. This has led to several publishing groups stopping the publication of materials in Galician as they no longer had the support of the Administration. Just one year after the implementation, no new classroom materials_including textbooks and support tools and resources_ are to be found for subjects which the decree assigns to Spanish for the after 6 year-old students7 . As a result it has become even more of a challenge to get hold reading and writing materials for 3 to 6 year-old students.This restrictive situation for Galician in the schools, which contrasts with the spirit ofthe law, is causing a lack of linguistic competence among the students, which meansthe goals as set out by the Law for the Standardization of the Language (article 10)have not been met. As a result students do not achieve the required levels ofcompetence of both languages at every academic level. A reduction of the number ofspeakers has accelerated, especially in towns and cities, a fact borne out by everypiece of research on the subject (Royal Acacademy of Galicia, Galician Institute forStatistics, Council for Galician Culture etc)As the attached press pack shows, the passing of the decree caused social outcry andled to an attempt by the administration to justify the measure. They sent a public6 It is also contradictory that Portuguese speaking students are exempted (sharing Portuguese andGalician the same linguistic root), but they are obliged to take the other official language.7 One must remember that these subjects could be taught in Galician if the parents decided to swap thecompulsory subjects in Galician for those in Spanish Coordinadora Galega de Equipos de Normalización e Dinamización Lingüística
  8. 8. message about the need to curtail the minority language as overprotection of it in theeducational system was tantamount to an attack on the people.This administration’s lack of interest in language standarization is not limited to thispiece of legislation as the following paragraph demonstrates.2. Other policies which prevent the standarization of Galician in the schoolsThe attacks on Galician and the scant commitment in its defense and promotion areever more evident when we turn our attention to the key area of education:a) Elimination of the pilot project of linguistic immersion for children between 3 and 6,which enabled schools to offer classes in the minority language. This action (suggestedby GPSGL) had wide family support and achieved excellent academic results. It was theonly way for urban students to acquire minimum linguistic competence.b) Elimination of Nursery Schools where the teaching in Galician was guaranteed (upto two thirds, not 100% as the current administration pledges)c) Exemption from taking the Galician Language and Literature tests in the universityaccess exams for those students who did the first year of non-compulsory secondaryschool course. (They are obliged to take those exams in Spanish)d) Lack of support for the publishing industry in Galician, which led to a drasticreduction in the number of printed books.e) As to the teaching staff, teachers are no longer required to demonstrate aknowledge of the minority language as, passing the Galician test is no longer a must inorder to become a public servant.f) A decrease in the use of Galician within the educational administration, taking stepsagainst Galician being employed in official papers. Spanish is ever more present indocuments issued by the educational administration8.g) The exclusion of Galician of the new technologies for educational purposes8 A good example is the documentation that must be submitted in order to apply for the SummerEnglish Courses, which is available only in Spanish as it is managed by a company in Madrid, despite thefact it is offered by the Galician administration and addressed exclusively to the Galician community. Coordinadora Galega de Equipos de Normalización e Dinamización Lingüística
  9. 9. a. IT in the classroom is monolopolized by Spanish. By excluding Galician from the science field_modernity speaks Spanish_the creation of IT related material and resources in Galician, both for teachers and the administration in general, is thwarted. b. The setting up of the so called Abalar Project9 meant a setback for Galician in the classroom. The materials available on the resources server are scarce and mostly in Spanish. For instance just two items_of very low quality_for the subject of Galician are available. The administration failed to encourage the creation of materials and never bothered to have those in Spanish translated, let alone producing resources in Galician. Total apathy best describes the attitude in the areas of Galician Language and Literature. Abalar’s internet contribution in Galician is non-existent. The presence of Galician is completely ignored by the digital press. The administration witnesses with arms folded the invisibility of Galician on the net. c. The resources available on the administration’s educational webpage, many of them in Galician, were suddenly withdrawn. As a result, programmes as valuable as the Biosphere Project, which had been translated into Galician and used to be available for Science classes were removed and now can only be acessed on the Ministry of Education webpage, in Spanish. All this is happening although the subject is taught in Galician. In Maths and Technology the absence of Galician is total.h) Budget cuts in the promotion of Galician. The money allocated for the promotion ofGalician developed by the Language Standardization and Improvement Teams werereduced by 20%.To sum up a considerable retreat of the presence of Galician was felt in Primary andSecondary School due to the current decree. (If Decree 124/2007 fell short of meetingthe compromises as reflected on the European Chart , the new one is more deficient9 Abalar is for the regional government, and in their own words, “the project that underpins the wholestrategy to fully integrate the new technologies into Galicia’s educational system, as a top priority planfor Galicia’s Educational Authority”. Coordinadora Galega de Equipos de Normalización e Dinamización Lingüística
  10. 10. and restrictive of the rights of a minority language, containing proposals which flatlycontradict and even fail to comply with the current legislation). The underlyingphilosophy is there is a need to get rid of any trace of positive discrimination in favourof Galician, as it is assumed that it is Spanish the beleaguered language. Therefore thepolicies of the government aim at regaining the lost balance which Decree 124/2007supposedly brought about. In order for them to achieve their goals, they started byfailing to fulfill the commitments, which had been unanimously approved in theGalician Parliament as expressed in the General Plan of the Galician Language of 2004.Allowing parents to make decisions about the language or assuring that Galician neveroutweighs Spanish in the classroom are decisions which add insult to injury in the longhistory of discrimination of Galician in the school system.Santiago de Compostela, July 5 2011.Valentina Formoso Gosende (General Coordinator of GACLSIT) Coordinadora Galega de Equipos de Normalización e Dinamización Lingüística