Category: Ikastola

Day of the Basque Language Around the World

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Last Saturday, December 3, was the International Day of the Basque Language, and it was celebrated around the world through a variety of different events. Here in the United States, the UC Santa Barbara’s Basque Studies department held a day-long event with traditional dances, a book presentation, and food. They also inaugurated their Basque Club, zorionak!

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UCSB Poster

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UCSB Basque Studies Students

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Meanwhile in Boise, the Ikastola, or Basque-language school, and students at the Basque Museum put together a video inviting us all to speak in Basque: “Guk euskaraz, zuk zergatik ez?” or we speak in Basque, why don’t you?  The music is by Jose Antonio Larrañaga Etxabe, better known as Urko, but the song is based on a text by Gabriel Aresti.

This day was officially put in place in 1995 by the Basque Autonomous Government and the Royal Academy of the Basque Language (Euskaltzaindia), and is celebrated by many associations and public enterprises through conferences, exhibits, and festivals, among other activities. Eusko Ikaskuntza originally set the day in 1949, which was the first official celebration, even though the organization has always done so much to protect and promote the language. According to the Basque Parliament’s 2010 institutional declaration:

“Basque is the heritage of Basque society, an essential component in its history and culture. But like the rest of the world’s languages, it is the patrimony of all those who have it as a sign multilingualism. If you want to protect the diversity of languages, it is necessary to care for and promote Basque.”

“Euskera has a very long history, but we know very little about its beginnings. It is a modern and up-to-date language that society wants to continue to use and which is gaining increasing recognition in all fields. From the fundamental agreement for Euskera, embodied in the Standardization Law of 1982, until the current attempts for a renewed agreement, some time has passed, perhaps not a very extensive period of time, but a period in which the knowledge and the use of Euskera in the Basque Autonomous Community has advanced in a firm and spectacular way ”

“With the celebration of the International Day of Euskera we want to open a window to the present and future of Euskera, convinced that multilingualism can exert a favorable influence on our democratic coexistence and social cohesion.”

For a complete version of the declaration visit: http://www.euskara.euskadi.eus/contenidos/noticia/euskararen_eguna_2012/es_berria/adjuntos/Euskararen%20eguna.%20Adierazpena.pdf

For a list of the activities around the world, please visit Euskal Kultura’s website, which lays out the many events carried out in partnership with the Etxepare Basque Institute: http://www.euskalkultura.com/espanol/noticias/los-lectorados-del-instituto-etxepare-difunden-el-dia-del-euskera-por-las-universidades-del-mundo

The EITB also has a webpage dedicated to many different aspects of the Day of the Basque Language and Basque-related questions: http://www.eitb.eus/es/tag/dia-internacional-del-euskera/

Lastly, don’t forget to visit the Basque Government’s page dedicated to Basque, complete with dictionaries and translation software. It’s a great source for Basque learning, so what’s stopping you? Poliki poliki, you could be speaking and living in Basque too! http://www.euskara.euskadi.eus/r59-734/es/

Fun fact: The Day of the Basque Language is celebrated on the 3rd of December to coincide with the feast day of Saint Francis Xavier, the Navarrese Jesuit, who is said to have spoken his last words in Basque, his mother-tongue.

For more on Basque in general, check out some of the Center’s publications, like This Strange and Powerful Language by Iban Zaldua, an engaging essay that traces the development of Basque-language literature while contemplating along the way the reasons why bilingual people choose to write in smaller languages.

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See, too, Writing Words, Pello Salaburu’s compelling account of how a standard form of Basque was established, amid much heated debate, and how this served as a springboard for the revival of the language, through education, the media, and various cultural initiatives, all within a remarkably short space of time.

Other works that may be of interest include The Dialects of Basque by Koldo Zuazo; Basque Sociolinguistics by Estibaliz Amorrortu (free to download here); The Challenge of a Bilingual Society in the Basque Country, edited by Pello Salaburu and Xabier Alberdi; and Basque Literary History, edited by Mari Jose Olaziregi.

Nafarroa Oinez 2016 video: Check it out!

A few weeks ago we posted the video for the ikastola fundraiser day in Gipuzkoa (click here to see that). This weekend, October 16, it’s the turn of Nafarroa to host its own fundraiser; this year, Nafarroa Oinez will be held in Viana and will be raising funds for the ikastolas of Viana and Lodosa.

The slogan for this year’s event is “Hartu, tenka, tira!” (Pick up the rope, take the strain, pull!) and refers to the referee’s commands in a tug-of-war contest. It was chosen to represent all the effort and commitment required in disseminating Basque-language education. So come on everyone, let’s all pull in favor of Basque! Check out the video!

 

 

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During the 1960s, when the first ikastolak (Basque language schools) subsequent to the Spanish Civil War were created after a long ban by the Francoist regime, some key people were essential to their success.

Imanol Urbieta was one of these pioneers. Ikastolak were in need of almost everything: a proper legal framework, economic support, and pedagogical materials in the Basque language. Parents navigated the legal system to make ikastolak legal, or at least to avoid being prosecuted; all kinds of organizations provided premises in which children would be comfortable; and teachers created materials to teach Basque and other topics.

Imanol Urbieta (c) during a popular tribute in 2014. Behind him, his spouse Kontxi Aizarna, who collaborated with Imanol. Picture CC-BY-ND by Urola Kostako Hitza

Imanol Urbieta (c) during a popular tribute in 2014. Behind him, his spouse Kontxi Aizarna, who collaborated with Imanol. Picture CC-BY-ND by Urola Kostako Hitza

Imanol, one of the first teachers at the Salbatore Mitxelena Ikastola in Zarautz, Gipuzkoa, did some wonderful work in renewing the pedagogy and in the use of an innovative teaching tool: music and songs. Imanol’s songs (Ran Roberran, John Brown, Txiki txiki txikia, and so on) are part of the soundtrack of our generation’s lives. And of our children’s lives too, not only because we as parents sing them to our sons and daughters, but also because Pirritx, Porrotx eta Marimotots, the most renowned Basque clowns, sing them prolifically.

Imanol Urbieta died in Zarautz on September 28th, 2016 at age 83.

 

Great new video to accompany this weekend’s Kilometroak fundraiser in Bergara

Every year, throughout the Basque Country, a special day is set aside to raise funds for a particular ikastola (a school in which instruction takes place predominantly in Basque) on which the main goal is to complete a walk (often sponsored) around a set circuit, with refreshment stands along the way and other associated activities, including concerts and the like, all in aid of raising money for Basque-language education: in Araba this is known as Araba Euskaraz (meaning “Araba in Basque”); in Bizkaia, Ibilialdia (the trek, hike, walk, etc.); in Iparralde, Herri Urats (“a people’s step”); in Nafarroa, Nafarroa Oinez (Nafarroa on foot); and in Gipuzkoa, Kilometroak (kilometers).

This year’s Kilometroak, which takes place on October 2, is being organized by the Aranzadi Ikastola in Bergara and its theme is demasa (tremendous, humongous), linked to the notion of aniztasuna (diversity). A great part of all these events in recent years has been the introduction of a specially composed song for the day with an accompanying video, and we’d like to share this year’s song with you. Enjoy!

 

Glowing online review for Basque education system

Sean Coughlan, education correspondent for the online BBC news service, recently published an illuminating report on the Basque education system that I would encourage you all to read.

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Students at the Altzaga Ikastola in Leioa, Bizkaia, take part in the “Gure Ohiturak” (Our Customs) dance group. Photo by Gorkaazk, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The article rests on the fascinating premise that the singularity of the Basque education system “with a strong sense of identity and ambition, emerging from conflict and with a need to compete with much bigger neighbours” potentially makes it “the next rising star” in the world of innovative education.  And referring to the strong emphasis on investment in research and development, Coughlan observes that, “In many ways, the educational profile feels more like a pocket of Scandinavia rather than southern Europe.”

Indeed, the Basque government’s education minister, Cristina Uriarte, is quoted as saying: “Education is the key to keeping our culture.” We couldn’t agree more!

Read the full report here.

If you’re interested in this topic, check out the Center publication Equality, Equity, and Diversity: Educational Solutions in the Basque Country, edited by Alfonso Unceta and Concepción Medrano. This book is available free to download here.

You may also be interested in the following related works:

Implications of Current Research on Social Innovation in the Basque Country, edited by Ander Gurrutxaga Abad and Antonio Rivera. Free to download here

Innovation: Economic, Social, and Cultural Aspects, edited by Mikel Gómez Uranga and Juan Carlos Miguel de Bustos. Free to download here

Herri Urrats, another step toward Basque-language schooling in Iparralde

Yesterday, May 8, Herri Urrats, the annual fundraising event in aid of ikastolak, Basque-language medium schools, in Iparralde took place in Senpere (Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle) in Lapurdi. The event, which has been held every year since 1984, takes the form of a festival held around the Senpere lake, 3 miles or so from the town center.  People typically stroll around the lake, generally hang out, have picnics or grab something to eat at a food stall, and attend one of the many shows on offer (music, dance, theater, etc.). Weather permitting, you can even take a dip in the lake (not really an option this year!), but all in all, a fun day out and all for a good cause.

This year’s event specifically sought to raise funds for renovating the site of the Bernat Etxepare high school in Baiona as well as toward developing a whole new section of the school that will offer, for the first time in Iparralde, vocational education or professional training in Basque.

Check out the official site for the event here, as well as pictures (and a short video) from yesterday, courtesy of Berria, here and below:

Check out, too, the clip for this year’s Herri Urrats song, “Jalgi” (Get out there) by Esne Beltza, which includes the participation of kids from the Bernat Etxepare and Oihana ikastolas.

On Basque education, see Equality, Equity, and Diversity: Educational Solutions in the Basque Country, edited by Alfonso Unceta and Concepción Medrano, available free to download here.

New Location for Boiseko Ikastola

The preschool Boiseko Ikastola, the only ikastola or Basque-language school outside the Basque Country, has just moved to a new location and celebrated this in a grand opening ceremony on July 20. On the opening, and the ikastola more generally, see the report by Boise’s KTVB Channel 7 here.  Zorionak from everyone at the Center to Boiseko Ikastola!

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For more on ikastolas and the Basque education system in general, see Equality, Equity, and Diversity: Educational Solutions in the Basque Country, edited by Alfonso Unceta and Concepción Medrano, available free to download here.

 

Basque Ikastola Teachers Visit CBS

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Alkiza, near Asteasu, Gipuzkoa, photo by Daniel Montero

Aitor Atxega and Olga Villa, teachers from the ikastolas of Asteasu and Alkiza, visited CBS the on March 9. Taking advantage of a sabbatical, they traveled to Reno, where they visited Peavine Elementary School. Retired teacher Marilyn Paradis gave them a school tour and introduced them to how classes are managed in Nevada.

Ikastolas are schools that are somewhat separated from the Spanish public school system and that instruct exclusively in Basque. Many were begun clandestinely during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, but in recent times they have emerged and are a leading force in education in the Basque Country. To learn more about the Basque educational system, check out Equality, Equity, and Diversity: Educational Solutions in the Basque Country, edited by Alfonso Unceta and Concepción Medrano. Download it for free here!

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Ikastola community garden. Photo taken from Asteasu Ikastola page.

 

Visit the Asteasu ikastola site here (in Basque)