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How schools are dealing with Catalonia’s push for independence

Catalan schools dismiss accusations of “indoctrinating” children made by anti-independence politicians

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10 October 2017 06:39 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Catalonia’s push for independence has in recent years become the cornerstone of most political discussions in the country. The issue has dominated not only party politics, but has also permeated almost all spheres of social life, from culture and the arts to business. Schools are no exception.

Anti-independence politicians have long criticized Catalonia’s education system for conveying what they deem as a biased vision of the country’s history and its relationship with the rest of Spain. Not a few have accused teachers of “indoctrinating” children, such as Inés Arrimadas, the leader of Cs, the main opposition party in the Catalan Parliament.

Xavier García Albiol, the leader of Spain’s ruling People’s Party in Catalonia, went as far as to claim that it had been a mistake to let the Catalan government and other Spanish regions manage their own education systems. “A major part of this system has become a powerful tool for indoctrination, and for the manipulation of reality and history,” he said.

  • "A major part of this [school] system has become a powerful tool for indoctrination, and for the manipulation of reality and history"

    Xavier García Albiol · People's Party leader in Catalonia

Catalan schools have repeatedly dismissed these accusations as false. The central board of school headmasters in Catalonia on Tuesday referred to recent comments from former leaders of the Spanish Socialist party, who claimed that “most teachers” are members of pro-independence parties and accused them of promoting “hatred against Spain”.

“We cannot tolerate accusations that bring into question the work of tens of thousands of great professionals and which are aimed at framing a political discourse that justifies the takeover of Catalonia,” they said.

The school heads also referred to the Spanish police crackdown on the independence referendum on October 1, which left almost 900 injured according to the Catalan authorities. Police raided dozens of polling stations located in schools. “The aggression against schools is the worst message that either students or society can receive,” they claimed.

Fathers said that many children asked questions after the violent crackdown against the referendum that took place in many of their schools. "They did not understand what was going on, because they had never seen police hitting people indiscriminately," said one of them, Albert Poch, from a school in Girona that saw a huge police presence on October 1.

Some schools had psychologists attending days after the referendum, as some of the buildings had to be repaired and children were asking questions about what happened and why.

Discrimination against police officer’s child

A Catalan court is investigating a school head and two teachers for allegedly prompting hate speech against Spain’s police in the aftermath of the referendum. According to complaints, the child of a Guardia Civil officer has suffered “humiliation, insults and aggression” from classmates. The judge is investigating whether the teachers and the head used their “position of power” to induce children to discriminate against their fellow student.

Discussing independence in Galicia

Meanwhile, a union in Galicia has asked the Spanish government delegation in the region to either “confirm or dismiss” whether Guardia Civil officers are investigating a teacher who organized a debate on the political situation in Catalonia with his students.

If confirmed, the intervention would be “an aberration” and “an absolutely unacceptable attempt to intimidate” teachers, the union claims.

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  • Children at a Catalan school (by Norma Vidal)