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 the supporters of regional languages: the establishment of immersive education and the creation a school fee 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, much 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 the Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer and the warnings of the president of the LREM group Christophe Castaner, all against the backdrop of electric debates.
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) was also 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 numerous deputies in the hemicycle inflicted a snub on the Minister of National Education 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,” summed up LFI deputy Bastien Lachaud.
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