Language and Education is a 'hot topic' for many european countries and milions of European citizens.
Europeans whose national languages have to struggle with both: the increasing anglicisation of the educational system and/or the state violence suffered in a daily basis without an independent state of their own to defend their culture.
After more than two years of delay beacuse of the pandemic, the ICEC conference in the European Parliament (EP) on Language & Education could finally take place on Tuesday 14 June. ICEC is the European umbrella organization for many associations and individuals working to bring the Universal Right to Selfdetermination to its full practical democratic capacity.
The patience was more than rewarded. In the ex post evaluation, the delegates from the various countries were all in agreement, the content of this seventh conference was excellent and in an excellent timing. We congratulate all participants and thank them for sharing their valuable knowledge so we can all understand the particular sociolinguist reality of territories with a mothertongue, a national language, facing various hurdles imposed by globalism and/or the permanent state violence against these national cultures without an independent state.
A lot of preparatory work
That result did not come easily. Months of preparation preceded. In the past seven months you could already read articles about the language and education situation in the ICEC countries. We are continuing the series, because several other countries have already shown interest. In the EP, all participants received a brochure with all articles. You can find them on the ICEC website (www.icec.ngo).
The day before, fifteen people from six countries gathered to investigate further, look for similarities and differences, and finally draft resolutions. A very intensive and time-consuming job because they had to be applicable to many different situations.
Here you can find the pdf brouchure of the conference with the six languages articles already published below.
European Parlamient Conference: ‘Education and Language’
Three moving testimonials
The main part consisted of three testimonials. Paul Bilboa explained the Basque situation and presented us with their proposal for a quality Basque education. An De Moor surprised many with her description of the Flemish educational world and finally Enric Gomà concluded with a not always rosy story about the Spanish involvement in the Catalan educational world.
Bernard Daelemans and Anna Arqué were then given the opportunity on behalf of ICEC to make their grievances and concerns clear to the public.
As an association and as a pressure and lobby group, we can want a lot, but at the end it is politicians who have to do things. That is why two politicians were present together with the Corsican François Alfonsi (EFA group leader in the EP) and the Fleming Mark Demesmaeker who reacted to the feasibility of our plans.
We unanimously approved the three resolutions proposed by ICEC covering three different important aspects related to 'Language and Education'.
We send the approved resolutions to all European and Flemish MPs with the request to act and react on them.
After all, our languages and our education systems are too important to just ignore. Just look at the discussions that are currently raging around the quality of our own schools and the teacher shortage.However, high-quality education goes hand in hand with thorough education in the mother tongue of the language area where you live. And this must now be done by both politicians and pressure groups.
So let's get started, for our children, our grandchildren and our society!
Resolution 1: There are no unofficial languages
The MEPs and the European institutions do not speak the languages of literally millions and millions of European citizens. The legal procedure to access to the status of ‘oficial language’ is blocked not for linguistic reasons, but for political reasons.
Apartheid was legal, the holocaust was legal, slavery was legal, colonialism was legal, and banning the language spoken by milions of europeans is legal. But legality should not be a matter of power but of justice.
Politicians are the legislators who pass new laws or reform the flawed ones, therefore:
· Do you agree to formally request MEPs to resolve this issue, so that the procedure for access to ‘official’ status ought to be linked to the formal demand of the people (through institutions, grassroots movements, etc.) and not just blocked by the judgment of the state? (Ed: The Spanish state is blocking the use of, for example, Catalan, the fourteenth most widely spoken language in Europe.)
Resolutie 2: The right to education in the mother tongue
In their own historical language area, citizens have the right to receive education in the language of this area, from kindergarten to university.
This also means that English as an international language of globalization should not replace the national language, for example in higher education.
· Do you agree to demand a commitment from the European institutions to strengthen and promote the national languages (from the historical linguistic area) as the medium of instruction from kindergarten to university?
Resolution 3: Language is more than just education
Free time is essential to normalize a language. If the mother tongue is used only at school and at home, children do not gain experience in all areas of the language (eg cartoons, sports, computers, art and music...) and the linguistic situation is not balanced.
Being official of a language should not be limited to school and home. Being official of a language should mean that speakers have the right to receive all kinds of content in this language.
· Do we agree that MEPs are calling for the richness of linguistic diversity to be included in all leisure spaces (eg Netflix, Disney, Amazon but also in sports clubs, etc. ...)?
The full conference will soon be available in ICEC's Facebook page.
Please find below:
1. The booklet with our six published articles on 'Language and Education' TOGETHER in one PDF.
2. Paul Bilbao's presentation.
3. An de Moor's presentation.
4. Enric Gomà's presentation.
5. Bernard Dealemans' conclusions 'Our common voice'. Part I.
6. Anna Arqué's conclusions 'Our common voice'. Part II.