The Government has approved this Tuesday an agreement to “legally protect” teachers against “illegitimate attacks” and the “demand for responsibility” in reference to the latest sentences that require 25% of the Spanish language to be taught in the classroom. This objective is specified in making legal advice and defense services available to teachers if they need it. “What we want is to protect by all means the people who work in schools against the illegitimate attacks they may suffer,” said the Government spokesperson, Patrícia Plaja, after the Executive Council at a press conference.
Likewise, the approved document foresees “demanding responsibilities” by the corresponding means -political, criminal or administrative- to anyone who “attacks” “people or groups for the defense and use of Catalan or for the exercise of their functions”. Plaja admitted that the agreement seeks to “institutionalize” and “formalize” the commitment to the defense of Catalan as a vehicular language in schools that was recently made explicit by President Pere Aragonès or the Minister of Education, Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray.
In less than a month and in the midst of controversy over the sentences that oblige the Generalitat to dictate at least 25% of classes in Spanish, there have been two major changes at the top of the Department of Education. This Tuesday, the Official Gazette of the Generalitat (DOGC) publishes the dismissal of Mònica Pereña Pérez, until now deputy director general of multilingualism. On November 29, he had done the same with his superior, Mayte Aymerich. In both cases, the Catalan Administration has disassociated these movements from the dispute over linguistic immersion and has justified Pereña’s dismissal as an “operational change”.
Pereña, with a technical profile, had held the position since 2011, when Education was in the hands of Irene Rigau, from the defunct Convergència i Unió. He was in charge of two key services in teaching: that of linguistic support and resources and that of foreign and native languages. Graduated in teaching French and graduated in Catalan from the University of Barcelona, she had a long career at the Generalitat. The Department did not clarify whether it was a termination at its own request and has limited itself to explaining that the movement is “an operational change.”
The Government spokesperson, Patrícia Plaja, assured this Tuesday at the press conference after the Executive Council that the dismissals of Pereña and Aymerich were not related. Last November, Aymerich, then head of Curriculum, resigned in an untimely manner, although several sources assure that he did not have a good personal relationship with the director Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray. The decision responded to her desire to begin preparing her return to municipal politics, since she had already been mayor of Sant Vicenç del Horts for Esquerra Republicana between 2015 and 2019. It generated several suspicions that the replacement happened just after the Supreme Court ratified the ruling of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) that obliges to fix a minimum of 25% of teaching hours in Spanish in order to shield its status as a vehicular language and from the Department it was insisted that the immersion model would not be modified.
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The Generalitat quickly replaced Aymerich with the psychologist Susana Naranjo, also with a technical profile and who worked as director of the Serveis Territorials de Barcelona Comarques. Both his position and that of Pereña are key in the formula that the Generalitat finally designs to comply with the judgment of the TSJC.