Balearic Islanders took yesterday massively to the streets of the four islands of Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera calling for respect for a public education system with Catalan as the main vehicular language. Demonstrators cried against a new trilingual model (known as TIL) that would largely reduce the role of Catalan in the Balearic schools. The protest follows an unlimited general strike that started earlier this month among school teachers.
According to data by the Balearic Society of Mathematics, at least 80,000 people marched in Majorca's capital city of Palma. The figure is quite similar to Spanish Government calculation of 70,000 people in Palma, plus 6,500 in Minorca's Maó and 5,000 in Ibiza. These figures mean that yesterday's is the largest demonstration ever in the Balearic Islands.
An "ideological purge"
The Assembly of Teachers (one of the organizations that were calling to demonstrate) said in its manifesto that demonstrators were "resolved to defend education from cuts, ideological purge and attacks against the Catalan language". The march had also a wider scope, according to the manifesto: "[We are also here] to defend our social and individual rights. Because not only education is endangered. The list is long, very long", and also includes "health, dependent adult care, social services, public administration, and fire-fighting services".
The march had the support of several civil society organizations, trade unions and all the political parties in the Balearic Parliament, except for the ruling Popular Party (PP). Some demonstrators showed banners in which they called Balearic President José Ramón Bauzá to immediately resign.
The Popular Party holds an overall majority in the Balearic Parliament since 2011. The next election is scheduled for 2015.
A "balanced" use of languages, says the Government
The Balearic Government says that TIL model wants to introduce a "balanced" use of Catalan, Spanish and English into the education system. PP thinks that the previous model too strongly favoured Catalan.
But teachers say that the Government is trying to implement the use of English as a vehicular tongue with insufficient resources. They also say recall that Catalan is the own language of the Balearic Islands and that it faces a strong pressure from Spanish. Thus, they consider that Catalan must be given preeminence in the school in order to balance its worse situation in social use.
(Image: demonstrators dressed in green T-shirts, a symbol against TIL / Picture by Marga Mas.)