Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Independence Indoctrination In Schools?

Over three years ago a teacher in Mallorca went on hunger strike. The reason for his taking this extreme action was as a protest against the educational policies of the Bauzá government. Foremost among those policies was the attack on the use of Catalan. The adoption of the policy of TIL trilingual teaching was a thinly disguised means of undermining Catalan, and one really didn't need to be a supporter of Catalan in schools or not in order to appreciate the policy for what it was. He was a teacher of the Catalan language and of Catalan literature. His defence of both was understandable.

At the time of the protests against TIL there was a political undercurrent in addition to specifically educational opposition or a concern about an assault on Catalan culture. That undercurrent was one of independence. The hunger-striking teacher was a supporter of the independence of the Catalan Lands.

The other day the president of the Empresaris de Catalunya, Josep Bou, was warning about an "export" of the Catalan sovereignty movement to the Balearics. The warning was unnecessary. The movement is already in the Balearics and it has been here for many years. From the time of their inception in the 1970s, the PSM Mallorcan Socialists (the principal component of Més) have advocated a form of national (Mallorcan) liberation and the coming-together of the Catalan Lands.

What Josep Bou was referring to was the independence cause in Catalonia and its transfer to the Balearics. In this regard he was also a bit late. Més, David Abril most obviously, have been advancing the cause of Balearic independence. A date has been set as to when it should come about: 2030. In the context of support for Catalonia, and thus the greater good of the Catalan Lands, Més in Menorca have "recognised" the independent republic of Catalonia.

Meanwhile, there has been a call for Més and for Podemos to break their links with PSOE in the Balearic government and parliament because of the support given to the Rajoy government by PSOE nationally. This call has come from the CUP, Candidatura de Unidad Popular, the hard-left Catalonia party which backs independence. The call was specifically from the CUP in Palma, and the CUP have close ties to the radical youth group Arran, the ones who staged the anti-tourism protest by the restaurant in Palma in July and did so within a broader framework of advocating the independence of the Catalan Lands.

This independence sentiment in the Balearics is far from being anything new, but what now appears to concern the likes of Josep Bou is that it is gathering momentum. There need, he says, to be arguments which rebut this movement.

While there is a political framework that is capable of fostering this sentiment, there are other institutional frameworks about which some anxiety is being expressed because of their potential for adding to it. One institutional framework in particular - education.

There was a recent press report about pupils at a secondary school - it was in Inca - being "obliged" to take part in a form of protest in favour of the Catalonia referendum and against the police violence which occurred on the day of the referendum. As one parent put it, "the kids were being indoctrinated and presented with slogans in favour of independence and against the Spanish state".

Following this, the public prosecution service with responsibilities for minors launched an investigation into possible enforced participation in protest actions which went beyond the normal educational sphere. PSOE in the Balearics, Més and Podemos then presented a joint motion to parliament rejecting the "attacks and accusations" of political indoctrination coming from parties towards the right of centre.

Chief among those making the accusations has been Xavier Pericay, the leader of Ciudadanos (C's) in the Balearics. The C's are vehemently opposed to Catalan independence (you might have noticed this) and were indeed originally founded in Catalonia as a party as much against independence as they were against corruption.

In a lengthy interview, Pericay has gone into detail in explaining his concerns, suggesting that indoctrination can occur at conscious and the subconscious levels in schools. He said that this indoctrination can come about through teacher "inertia". Teachers are themselves unaware of operating in a particular way and adopting a dogmatic view of the world. He added that there are "militant teachers" and "professional indoctrinators", noting that there are only a few of these, but took aim at the "imposition" of Catalan by nationalists, believing that this creates their form of "microcosm", the school as a means ultimately of indoctrination.

The defence of culture and of language is a noble cause. But where are the boundaries for this defence and how does society react to their being breached? Pericay can perhaps look at the polls for an answer. The C's are gaining, while Més are going backwards.

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