Notes of the workshop on Education, within the With Catalonia international meeting
16 December 2017, 5 pm
We are aware that there is a questioning of the Catalan school system and of teachers’ work. The longing for freedom expressed in the struggle for self-determination is made to appear as having its origins in manipulation by teachers: there are accusations that hatred against Spain is being promoted in classrooms, that there is indoctrination and segregation. These accusations form part of the offensive by the Spanish state. This offensive has been in existence for a long time but the state repression on 1 October and the application of article 155 have intensified it. A process of criminalisation against Catalan teachers has started. In the workshop we have listened to testimonies given by teachers in schools that have been subjected to these accusations, such as Institut El Palau in Sant Andreu de la Barca. There were also testimonials by union members, like Ramon Font.
Linguistic immersion is being targeted and there is an attempt to impose on schools a monolithic view of history. We defend the non separation of children on the basis of their mother tongue, and we also uphold the fact that linguistic immersion has allowed children to learn both languages, Catalan and Spanish. Free debate and critical spirit as fundamental elements of the school practice are being put in question. We became aware that this offensive against freedom of teaching and to limit the right of expression is a problem for all teachers within the Spanish State and in Europe. This happens at the same time that there is an indoctrinating offensive, not only because of the presence of religion in school programs, but also because of the irruption of banks and saving banks making propaganda of their financial products.
We agreed that we need to defend Catalan public schools as spaces of social cohesion and collective organisation. Arrels, a Catalan public school in Northern Catalunya introduced us to their work. Different testimonies showed how on 1 October many schools that acted as polling stations experienced a powerful movement of self-organisation whereby different components of the educational community together with neighbours created solidarity networks to defend the referendum in the face of police repression, such as at Escola Mediterrània or CFA Freire. This grassroots re-organisation extends from kindergarten to the university with assemblies and CDRs. There were also proposals of mobilisation from Assemblea Groga or thoughts on the now historic indefinite strike in the Balearic Islands against TIL.
Finally, and as a conclusion: what is being applied today in Catalonia threatens the whole of the public school system in the Spanish state. Solidarity with the teachers under attack must be broadened and a campaign must be established. We also evaluate the possibility of a wider campaign in defence of the freedom of teaching and of the critical mind. We propose to share empowering experiences everywhere and public events to explain and debate the current situation in Catalonia and what we are going through in the school system.