Seven in ten families in the Balearic Islands choose Catalan as schooling language for their children

Own language of the islands still chosen by a clear majority despite efforts by conservative PP-led Balearic government to Castilianize public life · Teachers' associations say only a system where Catalan holds hegemonic place in schools can grant knowledge of Catalan and Spanish by pupils

70% of pupils aged 3 to 8 years old will have Catalan as their language of schooling in the Catalan speaking Balearic Islands, according to data released by the Balearic ministry of Education. The remaining 30% will have Spanish. This reflects the individual parents' choice for their children, a new system that was introduced in the Balearic Islands in 2012-2013.

Significant differences exist among the islands. The choice for Catalan is at 74.5% in Majorca (the largest and most populated island), 66.2% in Menorca, 42.4% in Eivissa and 61% in Formentera.

But it is noteworthy to say that choice for Spanish is advancing: that in the last academic year, Spanish was only chosen by 13% of parents.

Thus, seven in ten families have chosen Catalan despite efforts by the Balearic government to tip the balance in favour of Spanish. The government -which is led by Spanish nationalist conservative Popular Party- has engaged in a campaign of Castilianization of the islands' public life. On the one hand, the government has taken action in order to prevent that Catalan holds a hegemonic place in the Balearic school system. Balearic teachers' associations argue that only a system where Catalan is the main language in school can balance the social situation -where Catalan is a minorised language and Spanish the hegemonic one- and grant that all pupils have a good knowledge of both languages.

The place of Catalan in schools will further be eroded through a new programme by the Balearic ministry of Education to introduce trilingual education (Catalan, Spanish and English) in school. The plan foresees to use all three languages "in a balanced way" as vehicular languages in school. A "balanced way" goes against the place of Catalan as main language in schools.

Teachers opposing the plan argue that teaching through the medium of English will be introduced in an unpremeditated way. According to them, teachers are not yet sufficiently prepared to teach subjects in English in an effective way.

On the other hand, the Popular Party in the Balearic Islands has started to officially reintroduce Spanish place names in the islands. After the Francoist dictatorship, there was a trend to have the traditional, Catalan place names as the only official ones in the islands. But PP is now reversing the trend in several municipalities where they hold government. In 2011, Palma local council agreed to rebaptise the name as "Palma de Mallorca". This year, Maó local council introduced the name "Maó-Mahón". "Palma de Mallorca" and "Mahón" were the official names during Francoist dictatorship.