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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.

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.

17 – 21 December, Diverespai offers fun play opportunities for children

foto diverespai 2010This year for the week immediately preceding Christmas day, the Formentera Council's office of youth services has organised Diverespai. With a host of different activities and inflatable games, the installation is a favourite for children ages 3 to 12.

The supervised play activities at Diverespai will run from 17 to 21 December, from half-past nine in the morning to half-past one at midday and then again in the afternoon from four to eight. The temporary set-up will be mounted next to the sports facilities at the IES Marc Ferrer secondary school and a staff of day counsellors will be on hand to assure the safety of all. The first three days of the week will be reserved for visits from Formentera schools.

Inflatable toys at Diverespai range from castles, giant animals, staircases, nets and obstacles – all devised to make the course more exciting. Staff on site will also lead different themed workshops like face-painting and arts & crafts.

UNICEF grants Formentera seal of 'Child-friendly City'

consell joventut2The reward at the end of a long road, Formentera has at last received the recognition of UNICEF's Child-friend City programme (CFC), an initiative whose objective it is to promote local application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and at the same time support the joint efforts of the different municipalities that boast the distinction.

The decision to bestow the island with the UNICEF programme's quality seal came after a round of assessment -which takes place only once every two years- determined Formentera to be eligible. An evaluation committee traveled to the island in September in order to establish whether the projects overseen by the Council met with the programme's criteria.

Among other factors, the committee took into account the active inclusion of children in the political process, the routine creation of local youth plans, and the promotion of policies that benefit children. The UNICEF seal will be awarded 7 November in a ceremony to take place in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The distinction is a nod for all of the work that the Formentera Council has conducted in support of children and adolescents. In 2012, the Comité Balear of UNICEF provided the Formentera Office of Youth Services with an acknowledgement of good practises as part of the fourth annual call to recognise promotion of rights of the child and effective local policy. The evaluation applauded local efforts to promote equality, the work of Formentera's youth council, and the efforts of the “Es Molí” Social Centre.

The decision to grant this most-recent accolade was announced 17 October, when the Formentera Council learned it would join the councils of Eivissa, Maó and Santanyí on the list of Balearic municipalities to receive the honour in 2014. A total of 119 municipalities in Spain have been awarded the 'Child-friendly City' distinction.

The jury that grants the title is formed by the Spanish chapter of UNICEF, the Spanish Department of Health, Social Services and Equality, the Federation of Spanish Municipalities and Provinces and the University Institute of Needs and Rights of Children and Adolescents.  

“A source of great motivation to continue in the struggle for youth rights”

Formentera's councillor of social welfare and youth services, Dolores Fernández Tamargo, hailed the distinction as “a source of great motivation to continue in the struggle for youth rights, not to mention proof of the work done by the adult population of Formentera to support its children and adolescents, the future of this island.”

According to Councillor Fernández, “not only does the UNICEF jury's ruling applaud the creation of the local youth council, it also acknowledges a host of other projects presented as part of the Formentera Council's bid, including both past efforts and projects that are envisioned for the 2014-2018 period.”

Councillor Fernández thanked the workers of local social services and educational institutions, and in particular acknowledged the important work being done by Formentera's primary schools and secondary school, before also recognising “the task of my colleagues in the public administration who have been so invested in the project.”

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