Parliament definitively adopted on Thursday an opposition bill to protect and promote regional languages, after the favorable vote of the National Assembly at second reading despite the reluctance of the government and LREM deputies. Defended by the Liberties and Territories deputy Paul Molac, the text which was adopted by 247 votes in favor, 76 votes against and 19 abstentions, will allow two major innovations for supporters of regional languages: the introduction of immersive education and the creation of a school package for private schools providing education in regional languages.
Paul Molac applauded
Financing conditions for private establishments, immersive teaching, diacritics of regional languages: the subjects of endless debates were not lacking on the text of Paul Molac who wore an anti-covid mask in the colors of Gwen-ha-Du, the Breton flag. “Regional languages are a wealth, a national treasure”, defended Paul Molac, very applauded. “But this wealth is classified in great danger of extinction by Unesco”, he added. The percentage of students learning them “is totally insufficient for their sustainability, we need to accelerate”, he defends.
In December 2020, the Senate made major changes to the bill, but these additions were welcomed by Paul Molac. They stipulate that the financial participation of the municipalities in the education of pupils in the regional language in the private sector “is due” when the municipality of residence does not have a school providing this education. If this device was removed in committee at the National Assembly, it was reinstated in the hemicycle despite the opposition of Jean-Michel Blanquer and the warnings of Christophe Castaner, all against the backdrop of electric debates.
Tense exchanges between Blanquer and right-wing elected officials
During the discussion, the Minister of National Education had twice opposed the inclusion in law of these two measures which he provides for “chain consequences”. “We are in favor of the development of regional languages (…) but we have the right to be attentive to the modalities”, underlined the Minister, whose exchanges were sometimes tense with certain right-wing deputies. “We question certain fundamental principles of our public school,” also warned Christophe Castaner, the leader of the LREM deputies. His group had called for a vote against the bill.
Immersive teaching preserved
The amendment carried by Paul Molac was adopted by 127 votes in favor and 105 against. The introduction of immersive education (carried out for a large part of school time in a language other than the dominant language) has also been preserved despite a hotly debated government deletion amendment. He did not want the place of French as the language of education and of the life of public education establishments to be called into question. But the many deputies in the hemicycle inflicted a snub on Jean-Michel Blanquer by rejecting the amendment.
During the discussion, most of the deputies mentioned their personal history vis-à-vis regional languages, such as the Breton LR Marc Le Fur or the Corsican deputy Michel Castellani (Liberties and Territories), or multiplied the outings in Breton or Alsatian. But exchanges are sometimes heated between convinced defenders of regional languages and those in favor of the current balance. There are “epidermal debates, regional languages are part of it,” summarized LFI deputy Bastien Lachaud.
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