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Education

Raising awareness about natural surroundings, Sant Francesc library hosts environmental workshop for children

escola estiu2This Wednesday, 28 January at 5:30pm, the Marià Villangómez library of Sant Francesc Xavier will host a special workshop for children four and up aimed at increasing knowledge of local wildlife.

Combining an informational portion with a series of activities specially-adapted for younger audiences, the encounter is part of a campaign to propose one environmentally-themed educational workshop per month.

This first gathering will focus on some of the most oft-encountered animals on Formentera, with recycling, clean beaches, posidònia seaweed and wildfire prevention all planned as subjects to follow.

To compliment the educational content of the day, a selection of books on local Formentera wildlife will be pulled from the library's shelves and put on display with an end toward familiarising participants with good research habits.

Council learns details of remodel plans for Sant Ferran school, possible site for nursery

This morning, a team formed by Sònia Cardona, Formentera's councillor of culture and education; Xico Ribas, infrastructure coordinator and Diego Dueñas, head of town planning, met in Palma with Mateu Sunyer, head of the regional office in charge of infrastructure and educational and cultural services (Ibisec), to discuss the draft plan for the new Sant Ferran school. Also present at the meeting was José Manuel Alcaraz, the Govern Balear's delegate to the island of Formentera.

The encounter gave attendants the opportunity to see where exactly the new building would be located, thus allowing the Formentera Council to move forward with its own plans to construct a nursery on the remainder of the terrain. The meeting left no doubt that the nursery – commonly referred to as L'Escoleta in Catalan – would be built on Carrer Major street, leaving the remaining interior portion of the 11,000-sq.-m. plot for the future primary school.

The exchange also served as a chance for Formentera representatives to learn firsthand the details regarding the remodeled school. According to the draft, the centre will be equipped to hold two different groups from each year, as well as an early childhood learning facility, classrooms for the primary school-portion of the centre, a gymnasium, sport facilities and administrative offices. Also included are plans for a cafeteria and a basic kitchen, conceived as a place to store or serve food prepared elsewhere.

Sònia Cardona indicated the Council's desire to “modify this piece of the project, thus allowing the two educational centres to share kitchen and cafeteria. The idea of fitting two different kitchens onto such a reduced floor plan is unthinkable.” Indeed, the day's encounter served to bring together technical staff from both the Formentera and Palma administrations, who committed to collaborating on the project henceforth.

Cardona affirmed: “Our technicians are at Ibisec's service. We look forward to doing everything in our power to help the process along, streamlining the delivery of permits or any other proceedings pertinent to the construction of the new centre.”

Jaume Ferrer reiterates urgency of Sant Ferran school rebuild

visita Riera2President of the Formentera Council, Jaume Ferrer, accompanied by Sònia Cardona, councillor of education and culture, have traveled to Palma de Mallorca today to meet with Núria Riera, recently-appointed regional minister of education to the Govern Balear.

In addition to wishing the minister luck in her new position and officiating the first visit by Formentera councilmembers since Riera's appointment, president Ferrer and councilwoman Cardona's intent at the outset was to learn the calendar of action for the pending Sant Ferran school rebuild. At the most recent Formentera plenary, Palma's local delegate – José Manuel Alcaraz – remained silent as to whether or not a line item for construction of a new primary school would be included the Govern's budget.

In the words of Jaume Ferrer, the issue is “of fundamental importance for three reasons. First, [the stalled construction] means that our students are receiving instruction in obsolete facilities. Second, it effects a de facto paralysation of plans for the Sant Ferran nursery school. And third, the stall has hindered the redevelopment of the Sant Ferran town centre. When this rebuild takes place, the grounds of the school's current location will be used for cultural programming and municipal services. These are changes that will be important not only for the people of Formentera, but for the island in general.”

Riera – whom the two Formentera councilmembers found receptive – acknowledged that the Govern's budget didn't include money for the construction, while still leaving open a window of possibility. The regional minister of Education asserted that the Govern's budgets for the current calendar were not yet finalised, and thus, the inclusion of a new line item to start construction could not be discarded. Riera also said that the draft project for rebuilding the Sant Ferran primary school was expected within the coming weeks, and that the project itself would be elaborated over the course of 2015.

After the meeting, Ferrer and Cardona said that the Formentera Council would no longer hold back plans for the new nursery school: “These are two educational centres whose construction ought to be coordinated, but even with the expansion of the Sa Miranda nursery school in Sant Francesc, the growth of Formentera's local population has made a second nursery an unquestionable necessity. We will now do everything in our power to make it a reality, even if the Govern fails to do the same vis-à-vis the new primary school.”

Councillor Cardona indicated that she had also spoken with Riera on a series of other issues in education that still await resolution. Among these, adequate facilities for students of Formentera's technical programme in cooking and resources for the Catalan self-study point were among the first issues discussed. Currently, the space at the Marià Villangómez Library is funded entirely by the Formentera Council, which already assumes instruction costs for more than 180 students of Catalan. Moreover, Formentera's is the only self-study point in the Balearics whose maintenance is not administered by the Govern. Cardona also raised the issue of adding a new instrument to the list of those available for study at the Formentera Conservatory of Music. She explained: “We asked the Govern to make a similar effort to the one our own council has made with the School of Music, which has recently added 'school of dance' to its résumé.”

Riera apparently demonstrated a willingness to dialogue on the different issues and committed to providing clear and straightforward answers to them all, alluding to a visit to Formentera planned for the very near future.

Free Catalan language instruction for hospital staff

hospital-formenteraThe Formentera Island Council and the Formentera Hospital have signed a deal to coordinate Catalan language courses for employees of the hospital and provide preparatory instruction in anticipation of two official tests of the Catalan language currently scheduled for January and May 2015.

The courses - under the charge of the Council's linguistic assessment service - are at the A2 and B1/B2 levels. The A2 track focuses on cultivating students' oral comprehension skills as well as their ability to write and speak in Catalan. Theoretically, the A2 level corresponds to basic communication abilities, those that allow students to negotiate the most common daily situations. At the B1/B2 level, students are meant to achieve mastery of the language in both its written and oral forms, permitting either off-hand discussion of topics like work, school, family and leisure, or – contrarily – more thorough and technical analysis of topics such as the speaker's professional vocation.

As with previous accords between the Council and the Formentera Hospital, all courses will take place in the afternoon or evening in a space on the hospital premises, making attendance easier for staff. This is the third such agreement to be signed between the two entities.

Statement from the Formentera Island Council concerning the sentences handed down by the TSJIB with respect to the TIL

In light of the three sentences, issued 22 September 2014, by the Contentious Administrative Hall of the Balearic Islands Superior Court of Justice declaring null and void Decree 15/2013 [19 April] which regulates the use of languages at non-university educational centres in the Balearic Islands (known as Decret TIL), and in light of the sentence issued on the present date, which declares null and void the order that established the implementation of the Decret TIL, the Formentera Island Council wishes to state the following:

1. The court rulings, in addition to nullifying the Decret TIL, state that application of the decree “is of considerable significance for the Catalan language because it effects an undermining of the use of Catalan in the educational process and a reduction in the use of Catalan in teaching.” The sentence (number 443) continues: “...from this perspective, if it is the duty of the public administration to ensure linguistic normalisation in the Balearic Islands, a change from a bilingualist to trilingualist educational model, whose objective it is that the citizens of tomorrow achieve a total and perfect command of three languages – the two official languages and one foreign, this a response to recommendations by the European Union as well as to the undeniable fact that European citizens are at present obliged a certain familiarity with the language of greatest influence in the European context – must also surely impact the process of linguistic normalisation.”

2. The TSJIB ruling finds that insofar as the Catalan language and its normalisation in the educational context is affected, the Decret TIL impacts the assessorial and preceptive functions assigned to the Universitat de les Illes Balears by article 35 of the Balearic Islands Statute of Autonomy.

3. The rulings issued by the TSJIB find that Decree 15/2013 [19 April] (Decret TIL), which regulates the use of languages at non-university educational centres in the Balearic Islands, as well as the secondary order establishing the implementation of that decree, contained neither the scientific, nor the academic, nor the pedagogical consideration required of such a decree.

4. The Formentera Island Council, as manifested on numerous occasions through plenary accords and through its participation in the Consell Escolar de les Illes Balears (Academic Council of the Balearic Islands), opposed the development of the TIL, its lack of necessary financial support –a fact also mentioned in the TSJIB sentences–, and the precipitated manner in which the new linguistic projects were imposed on educational centres. Moreover, the Formentera Island Council holds firm in its conviction that no change to the educational model shall be imposed if it is detrimental to the process of linguistic normalisation of the language of the Balearic Islands, nor shall a change be imposed if it represents an aggression to the agents comprising the educational system. The future of our students is too important, and the autonomy of our educational centres and that of their respective academic councils -the most informed parties with respect to local linguistic circumstances- must be respected.

5. It is therefore our conviction that the sentences handed down today and yesterday by the TSJIB are an opportunity for the Govern Balear to reflect and reconsider its decisions in a manner that values consensus.

Radio stations and other comments: Sònia Cardona, councillor of Education of the Formentera Council, 666155829

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