Valencia students face Civic Education farce
Students in Valencia will have the new Civic Education subject taught in English and Spanish.15 September 2008
VALENCIA / MADRID -- Students in Valencia returning to school in September will have a new subject to contend with, which, due to a political protest by the regional government, is set to leave them either confused or speaking better English.
Valencia, governed by Spain's main opposition Popular Party, is the only Spanish region where schools are obliged to teach the new Civic Education subject in English as well as Spanish and/or the regional language.
The upshot is that Valencian secondary school students will have two teachers in their Civic Education classes - one giving instruction in Spanish or Valencian, and another translating into English.
While that may help improve students' foreign language skills, parents and teachers complain that Valencian teenagers are being made victims of a political dispute between the regional government of Francisco Camps and the Socialist central government that made Civic Education an obligatory subject nationwide.
The new class touches on issues such as ethics and good behaviour, as well as controversial topics including gay marriage.
Conservatives and Catholics have protested nationwide, claiming that it amounts to a form of "indoctrination" of children into the Socialist mindset.
Court cases, however, have so far resulted in contradictory verdicts and the subject will remain obligatory at least until the Supreme Court rules on whether parents have a right stop their children from taking it.
The Valencian government failed in its previous efforts to undermine the new curriculum. It had first sought to reduce the subject to a single test to be taken once a term on a list of questions agreed between parents and teachers, but the Valencian High Court rejected that idea on grounds that the Spanish Education Law specifies that a certain number of hours must be given over each week to Civic Education.
Camps' administration then proposed teaching the subject entirely in English, but fell afoul of a regional law obliging any change in the language of instruction of any subject to be agreed with parents associations. Most opposed the idea.
"It will be a spectacle of little educational use to have a teacher explaining in English what another teacher just said in Spanish or Valencian," argues Ricardo Peralta, the senior central government official in the Valencia region.
[El Pais / Expatica]