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PP eliminates the face-to-face teaching of Basque in Valencia during the Basque electoral campaign

  • The Department of Education of Valencia has reported cuts to the Official Language Schools in nine out of 16 languages, the Basque language being the worst left.

15 April 2024 - 17:18
Last updated: 2024-04-16 11:03:10
Valentziako ikastola.

"There is room for everyone in Euskera," said writer Garazi Arrula at the end of the Korrika, in the Basque race, which ended three weeks ago in Baiona. However, in the course of 2024-2025 you will not hear "hello", "good morning" and "good afternoon" in the classrooms of the Official Language Schools of Alicante, Valencia and Castellón (EOI), as the Ministry of Education of Valencia, dependent on the PP, has sent to the centers a document indicating that you can only study Basque online. The CAV is engaged in an electoral campaign in which the popular candidate Javier de Andrés has expressed his will to eliminate the linguistic profile in the Administration.

In nine of the sixteen languages currently taught in the EOI of Valencia there are restrictions: Arabic, Spanish for foreigners, Basque, Finnish, French, Greek, Dutch, Polish and Portuguese. Some of the most serious cuts have been made in Arabic (sixteen to eight) and Spanish (23 to fifteen).

But the Basque country is the hardest hit, since it has gone from fourteen to four groups and lost its presence, so it can only be studied online, and has gone from four professors to one. This teacher, Izaskun Kortazar, with a place in Alicante, is the one who works, and now she will have to go to Valencia to teach telematic classes. The level to be offered is unknown, the possibility is currently offered in section A1 to B2.

They began teaching Basque at the EOI of Saïdia in Valencia in 2015. It did so when it came to the power of the Valencian Government Botànic (PSOE and Compromis), with the express will of Rubén Trenzano, director of Linguistic Policy of the then Valencian coalition. Later, the teaching was extended to Alicante and Castellón. The linguist Garikoitz Knörr has been teaching Euskera in Valencia so far and has expressed his surprise at the decision they have known through an Excel sheet, known as "forecast", when they see the course groups next. He also expressed concern "for the teachers affected and for all students who cannot continue studying".

The reasons for making a decision involving four teachers and 120 students are unknown. The Ministry of Education, consulted by El Salto, has not provided information to date. Knör says that "there is no additional document" that says that Euskera has been lost in the EOI of Valencia. For his part, Kortazar has pointed out that the news has come on the Alicante holiday of Santa Faz, "without any warning, suddenly and by surprise".

Many students say they will no longer learn Basque if they go online.

The Basque Professor in Alicante sees exclusive virtual teaching as an "active" way to eliminate language in EOI, since "it is difficult for students to remain so": "Despite the difficulty of life, the social relations they perform are the reason to follow many people. In addition, in class there is an explanation for inside, you can sign up in the notebook, there is a human factor... online is not the same ".

Montserrat Ferrer studies Basque in Castellón and does not like the decision of the Ministry. He knows what he is talking about: he is retired, but at the institute he has been a professor in Valencia and has spent 40 years teaching the language didactics at the University Jaume I in Castellón. "Learning online is the smallest disease when it is not possible, but the result is not the same. Learning a language is not just learning structures mechanically, but knowing how to use them and correct mistakes. Within a class, a dynamic is created between professors and students, which encourages, feels empathy, interacts verbally in a collaborative way... or it becomes face-to-face or impossible. In fact, when everything was done online in the pandemic, it greatly influenced performance."

Another important theme in this sense is the older age profile of many students, as telematics may exclude learning. "Many have already said they will not follow," says Cortazar. One of them is Pep Olmos, 62 year old Valencian student. He is retired beforehand and is learning Basque "because the language is minority and is in danger, like the Valencian language": "If you put it online I leave it. I have come to computer science late, I have no facilities. In addition, in the pandemic we had these classes and it was a disaster, in the connections we lost a lot of time, if we did not hear it, if we did not see the screen… This is how the language is loaded directly, as is being done with the Valencian".

A 66-year-old student of Castellón, Oscar Aymerich, is thinking or not seriously: "I learn because I am retired and wanted to do some activity. Also, I have a son in Euskal Herria and I like language, I'm very happy." However, teaching online seems like a "nonsense": "I think whether to continue or not, but I see it difficult. I want him to stay in person."

Professor Montserrat Ferrer learns Euskera "by political conscience", because he was "ashamed" to know English, Italian, French and Portuguese and "not to know how" that state language works. "I think we need to know the languages and cultures that exist in the Spanish state. It seems that they have been forgotten what the Spanish Constitution says: the richness of linguistic modalities in Spain is a cultural heritage that must be subject to special respect and protection".

Professor Izaskun Kortazar agrees that "they cannot repeat how nice Spain is multicultural and multilingual, and in practice quite the opposite. Euskera is between 7,000 and 30,000 years old, born before Spain and Europe. We must begin to differentiate languages from the political ideas that each has. I have spent more years teaching in Spanish than in Basque. Languages do not compete with each other, they are not enemies, the more you know the better. I don't know anyone who regretted learning a language."

On the other hand, Ferrer believes that instead of saying "how it harms language profiles for people from outside", they should "facilitate language learning from other territories". In this regard, it urges the Basque Government and the Valencian Government to reach agreements to continue to teach Basque classes in Valencia.

Concentration against EOI restrictions

On Wednesday, April 17, a rally was called from 13:30 to 15:00 at the door of the Ministry of Education in Valencia. They will claim against cuts in all languages and levels of the Valencia EOI. Garikoitz Knörr welcomes the "feeling of solidarity of all teachers and departments with the most disadvantaged languages".

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