Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Educational Week Of Madness

It was another week of total madness courtesy of the teachers and the education ministry. It did in fact start with sadness. The death last Sunday of Sebastià Serra, the leader of the STEI-i teachers' union, did not herald a period of respectful quietness, albeit that five hundred or so people stood in silence for half an hour on Monday in front of the government's Consulat de Mar HQ. They were being quiet by way of protest rather than by way of remembrance. Their silence, they hoped, would act as a means of finding a solution to the "Great Conflict", that of education.

One had started to think that all the carry-on over trilingual teaching and whatever other grievances the teachers could drag up was dying down. But no. He almost certainly won't die, or one hopes not, but Jaume Sastre, a teacher at Llucmajor's secondary school, has been on hunger strike since 8 May. It has been his way of seeking a solution to the "Great Conflict", whatever it is, because one fears we no longer really know. It certainly hasn't got anything to do with the teaching of English, or doesn't appear to have.

All manner of people and organisations got involved with the "Great Conflict" last week. They ranged from the United Nations to the Mallorcan hoteliers federation to the Balearics College of Lawyers to the Balearics Business Confederation. We haven't heard from Real Mallorca football club yet, but they have had other things to worry about, like getting relegated. Most of these organisations called for dialogue, but what is this dialogue meant to be about? Is it trilingual teaching, Catalan, the law of symbols, what exactly?

The letter to the UN, sent by supporters of Sastre at the Assemblea de Docentes (teachers' assembly), did at least shed some light. His hunger strike is "in defence of public education, of its quality and in Catalan". Ah yes, in Catalan. The regional government, the UN has been informed, has been acting in an "authoritarian and repressive" manner and has been doing so for the past nine months.

With the UN unwittingly dragged into the affair, the "Great Conflict" began to assume crisis proportions of a potentially global scale. Into the fray, therefore, stepped Inma de Benito, newly elevated to the vice-presidency of the Mallorcan hoteliers federation. It, the "Great Conflict", does not offer a good image of the islands to the outside world, she announced, but didn't add any words of advice as to how the conflict might be resolved. Quite why she came to be involved is a mystery, but she might just reflect that mugger-prostitutes on the streets of resorts and total hotelier antagonism to the rental of private holiday accommodation also don't offer the best of images to the outside world.

She did, however, suggest that President Bauzá knows what he has to do. Of course he does. He once said so, as in: "We know what to do and what we do and why we do what we say we are going to do, and we will continue doing what we have to do even though some do not think that we will do what we said we would do." Yes, he really did say this. Donald Rumsfeld would be proud. 

Bauzá's infamous we know what we're doing monologue was hauled out by the Assemblea in one of a series of videos it put out during the week under the general theme of "de-constructing Bauzá". They were intended to reveal his demagoguery, his lies, his "contradictions, dialectical traps and rare oratorical skills". And the president wasn't the only one to be accused of lying. There was, as always, also Joana Camps. She is constantly lying, said an Assemblea spokesperson, noting that the turnout for a strike on Thursday was 15% and not the 0.7% which Joana claimed. Oh yes, there was a strike, and then another one on Friday.

Joana, meantime, found that another battle front had opened up, one that involved her native Menorca. It was a "personal attack", she explained, in saying that a "denuncia" by the Assemblea had no chance of succeeding. The attack had to do with thirty-two trips she had made during eight months as education minister. Of the thirty-two, thirty had been to Menorca.

Sadly also for Joana, the leading member of the parliamentary awkward squad, Manacor's Antoni Pastor, also had a pop at her. The one who is responsible for the application of TIL is the president, he said. "You are a simple, necessary collaborator." The front, the fallguy (woman), the stooge. At least Pastor speaks some sense amidst the madness.

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