Catalan court rules that Castilian must be “vehicular language” in schools

Judgment anticipates change from catering to individual demands to making whole classes study in Spanish

The Catalan regional High Court (TSJC) has ruled that if a single student asks to be taught in Castilian Spanish, the entire class will be obliged to do so as well.

“The system must be adapted to the entire class of which the student forms part. What has been agreed upon will affect that student and his classmates,” the court ruled.

The demands of parents in the region for greater exposure to Castilian — currently all classes are imparted in Catalan and Castilian is a separate subject — was upheld by the court, which stated that the two languages should have a more balanced presence in the classroom. However, the exact percentages were left in the hands of the regional government.

The TSJC ruled in 2009 that a child could be placed in a single language class or receive individual tutorship but has now decided that such practices would be “discriminatory” and defended the right of the student to receive classes in their main language “whether that is Catalan or Castilian.”

The TSJC ruling comes three weeks after the Supreme Court said the right of a student to receive Castilian classes “will not be met by individual attention but by the transformation of the entire system so that they and their classmates use — in the proportion the Generalitat finds reasonable — Castilian as a vehicular language.”

The court considers that the measure is compatible with the rights of other students “whose parents may prefer that the current linguistic model is not modified.”

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