Don Quixote fights again in dispute with politicians

8th August 2003 at 01:00
SPAIN

Don Quixote and and Francisco Pizarro look set to make a comeback in Catalonian and Basque Country classrooms, despite fierce opposition from local politicians.

A political row has erupted in Spain over the prospect of a new law being discussed by the ruling Partido Popular, which would enforce a uniform curriculum of Spanish culture to be taught in all 17 autonomous "communities" or regions.

Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar wants all of Spain's children to follow "a common path... to know better the common history of the country, the geography, the language and the literature".

Under the post-Franco constitution regions have a high degree of autonomy with their own parliaments and the right to choose the school syllabus, as long as it follows a general central framework.

As examinations are internal and inspections rare, teachers have enjoyed a free hand to teach a syllabus relevant to their local community.

Regional historians in fiercely independent communities such as Catalonia and the Basque Country have long been at odds with the Partido Popular's version of history awhich sees the building of the Spanish Empire as a noble cause.

Teachers in these areas have preferred local history and often local writers to great names such as Cervantes.

But Mr Aznar believes this encourages the separatist movements in Spain. It seems highly likely he will pass the legislation early next year, despite an outcry from the regions.

Artur Mas of the Catalan CiU dubbed the policy "a Spanish crusade" against the freedom enjoyed by local communities.

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