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Bertan > The Basque language >Education: The ikastolak
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Education: The ikastolak

The movement for the creation and consolidation of ikastolas has played a major role in training new Basque-speakers and in the development and consolidation of the language. The ikastolas, or Basque-language schools, were first created in the 1960s. During this initial stage, they were first banned and then occupied a legal limbo. The numbers grew gradually and by 1976, there were federations of ikastolas in all provinces. Over the years, their concern for educational quality and improvement have been widely recognised and they have won numerous awards. Their style of work and the fact that they are a social initiative, involving parents, pupils, teachers and the local town as a whole, make them an interesting example of a collective effort to revive Basque culture.

302. In 1978, the Diocesan Federation of Ikastolas, created in 1969, became a lay organisation, and federations were created in Alava, Biscay, Gipuzkoa, Iparralde (the Northern Basque Country) and Navarre. These later came together to form the Confederation of Ikastolas of the Basque Country (1987). Antonio Campos played a crucial role in this process. 303. In October 1980, the Basque Ministry of Education signed the Ikastola Accord with the Spanish Ministry for Education and Science. The agreement regulated 1,738 classrooms already providing education in Basque in the Basque Autonomous Community. 304. In 1993 the Basque Public School Act allowed most ikastolas to join the public network. Some, however, chose to remain private. 305. The ikastolas have pioneered educational improvements, and their demand for text books has fuelled a boom in the publishing industry, first for translations (Santillana, Kosmos) and then for original texts such as Saioka and Gordailu as well as reference books, such as Margo Ederdun Entziklopedia. 306. The Confederation of Ikastolas of the Basque Country currently includes the Federations of Alava (9 ikastolas), Biscay (22), Gipuzkoa (30), Navarre (15) and Iparralde (25). 307. The ikastolas and their educational and organisational methods have received numerous awards. 307. In 2006, the Gipuzkoan Federation won the ESU President's Award 2006 for innovation in the use of new technologies for teaching and learning English for its CD-Rom Space Search, which was presented by the Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace. 308. In Navarre, schools required to speak only in Spanish until the mid-1960s, when groups of parents opened the first ikastolas. In Pamplona, the first was Nuestra Señora de Ujué in 1965, run by the Asociación de Amigos del País. It was followed by San Fermín and Paz de Ziganda (1970). Other ikastolas dating from the same period include Leitza (1967), Olazti (1969) and Etxarri, Tafalla, Estella- Lizarra, Baztan and Lekunberri (1970). 309. Without being included in the public network, in Navarre there are now 15 approved ikastolas, which account for around 27% of students studying in Basque. The approved ikastolas of Tudela, Lumbier, Viana, Lodosa and Sangüesa are located in an area of southern Navarre which is classified as non Basque-speaking, and provide schooling in Basque to several hundred students. 310. In 1969 the first ikastola in the Northern Basque Country was opened in Arrangoitz, soon followed by others in Bayonne and Donibane Lohizune (Saint-Jean-de-Luz). The next year, further ikastolas were opened in Donibane Garazi (Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port), Senpere and Hendaia. Seaska, the association of ikastolas of the Northern Basque Country, was also founded in 1969. 311. In both the Basque Autonomous Community and in France there are approved Basque-language schools associated with the Catholic church, such as Kristau Eskolak and Euskal Haziak (bilingual). 312. The ikastolas of the Northern Basque Country were first recognised by the French Ministry of Education in 1983, after years of insistence, and teachers at the ikastolas are currently employed by the ministry. In 2010, 2,700 pupils were studying at the 29 ikastolas in Seaska. 313. In the Northern Basque Country, students enrolled in Basquelanguage education in 2006 accounted for 15.9% of the total. There has recently been a significant increase in enrolments in bilingual models, and the proportion of primary pupils studying in Basque has grown. It is worth recalling that the Basque language has no official status in France, and that education in Basque is given only in the ikastolas, bilingual public schools and a few Catholic schools.
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