Tag: basque education

Thousands gather for Herri Urrats 2017

This past Sunday thousands of people gathered together in the sun to celebrate the annual Herri Urrats (A People’s Step) festival in the Senpere lake area in Lapurdi. This is a fundraising event for Basque-language education initiatives in the Northern Basque Country. And this year, specifically, all the money raised will go toward the expansion of the Bernat Etxepare Lizeoa (high school), in Baiona, to incorporate a vocational or trade school, thereby offering full technical and vocational training in Basque for the first time in Iparralde. That’s not all, though, as part of an ambitious wider plan, the new site will also incorporate a barnetegi (that is, boarding facilities for adult learners of Basque) and major new sports installations. Exciting times ahead for the Bernat Etxepare Lizeoa!

So that’s the serious side to all this, but Herri Urats is really a fun day out for all the family, a meeting place for old friends, and an opportunity to celebrate the Basque language. And when the sun shines, which is does occasionally, there are few better places to be! See some great pictures from the day here.

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!

 

 

UPV/EHU Museum of Education – a step into the past

The University of the Basque Country, at its Donostia-San Sebastián campus, houses the Museum of Education, which won the Manuel Bartolomé Cossío prize in 2015 for its work in maintaining educational heritage. The museum’s objective is to “recover, safeguard, and make the historical memory of education in the Basque Country public.” Walking through its 7 halls, one steps into the past, traveling through the different phases of education and Basque language teaching in the Basque Country.

image_gallery

The museum has two recreations of classrooms, one from the 1950s-60s and the other from the 1970s. They are detailed to perfection, not only including furniture but also notebooks, backpacks, and other personal effects. The contrast is stark between the two and it helps to show the evolution of classrooms and education in general. Special attention is brought to the use of Basque in education, and much of the museum is dedicated to this. Educational materials are also on display and visitors are encouraged to visit the library, which is full of research on the subject of the history of education.

image_gallery-1

Unless you’re living in the Basque Country, you might have a hard time trying to visit. However, you can check out the following article, which includes a video (in Spanish) of the museum: http://www.ehu.eus/es/web/guest/preview-campusa/-/asset_publisher/1O7v/content/n_20160916-museo-educacion

Also visit their website for more information:  http://www.ehu.eus/es/web/museoeducacion

If you’re interested in learning more about education in the Basque Country, check out Equality, Equity, and Diversity, published by the CBS and free to download here: https://basque.unr.edu/docs/CR1.pdf

Basque Country achieves one of highest Human Development Index scores in world

Eustat, the Basque Statistics Institute, recently revealed that the Basque Country  is now in eighth place in a list of all countries according to the Human Development Index (HDI) ranking.

640px-2014_UN_Human_Development_Report_Quartiles.svg

UN HDI Rankings for 2014. The darker the blue, the higher the ranking. Image by Tomtom2732, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The HDI is a United Nations measure of well-being in a country, based on multiple factors such as life expectancy, education, and income per capita. Eustat calculated the Basque Country’s HDI for the period of 2010-2014, using the methodology of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It found that, with an HDI of 0.915, the Basque Country was ranked eighth overall in the world, behind Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, and Ireland, in joint position with the United States. and ahead of France (22nd, with an HDI of 0.888) and Spain (26th, with an HDI of 0.876).

Of special note is life expectancy in the Basque Country, which at 83.4 means that only the inhabitants of Hong Kong (84) and Japan (83.5) enjoy longer lives.

Read more at the Eustat website: The Basque Country has achieved one of the highest Human Development Index scores in the world

If you’re interested in this topic, check out The Basque Experience: Constructing Sustainable Human Development, by Juan Jose Ibarretxe. In this work, former lehendakari (Basque president) Ibarretxe explores just how the Basque Country has been able to rise so swiftly in the HDI rankings in the face of the multiple challenges it has faced in recent decades.

 

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.

640px-Gure_ohiturak_dantza_taldea_Altzaga_Ikastolako_kiroldegian

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.

Groundbreaking Cross-Border Agreement Foments Trilingual Education in the Two Navarres

On March 15, the Navarrese government’s Department of Education approved a groundbreaking scheme to pool public school resources in the neighboring towns of Luzaide (Valcarlos in Spanish), Hegoalde, and Arnegi (Arnéguy in French) in Iparralde, during the 2016-2017 school year.

This plan has been on the table since since September 2015 and responds not only to educational, cultural, and linguistic demands, but also to a demographic deficit in this rural mountain area. Barely two miles separate the towns and next fall, if fully approved by all interested parties, there will be a regular exchange of pupils between its two public school systems.

640px-Potloden_in_bekers

This new educational initiative seeks to encourage cultural and linguistic exchanges of all colors. Photo by Onderwijsgek. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

According to the draft agreement, preschoolers from both towns will attend the public school in Luzaide every morning and study primarily in Basque. Then on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons, the same joint groups will attend school in Arnegi and study primarily in French. Meanwhile, elementary school students from Luzaide will study French in the public school in Arnegi on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons.

As well as being a necessary educational initiative, it is also hoped that joint schooling will help social ties between Luzaide and Arnegi, as well as fomenting the trilingual nature of this particular geographical area straddling the “two” Navarres, and serving as the basis for the future development of the area.

While the plan has still not be officially rubber-stamped by the respective authorities on both sides of the border, all relevant parties (including parents) have expressed their approval, and it is just a matter of time before it this becomes a reality. In many ways, then, this little (and often overlooked) rural corner of the Basque Country will be at the vanguard of multi-lingual and multicultural education at a European and even global level.

See a report on the scheme at the Noticias de Navarra site (in Spanish) here and at Mediabask (in French) here.

Equality, Equity, and Diversity: Educational Solutions in the Basque Country, edited by Alfonso Unceta and Concepción Medrano, is a collection of different articles on various aspects of the Basque educational system, with a special emphasis on efforts to emphasize equality in the classroom and the challenges faced by a multilingual society.

Why learn a minority language? An inspirational lesson from Wales

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ll have some connection to or interest in Basque culture, however fleeting or incidental that may be. And I’m going to assume that many of you, too, if you don’t speak or understand some Basque, may have toyed with the idea of studying the language at some point, or may even be studying it now. As a native English speaker who learned Basque I routinely get into situations in which people ask why I bothered to learn a minority language in the first place. “What’s the point?” they ask. What’s more, they say, Basque is a “difficult” language to learn, so why go to all that bother?

Bred of Heaven cover

There are some answers to these questions in a wonderful book, in English, which I think can also serve as a source of inspiration and encouragement to anyone thinking about studying or actually studying Basque. It charts one person’s progress in studying a minority language, in this case another supposedly “difficult” tongue: Welsh. Published originally in 2011, Bred of Heaven: One Man’s Quest to Reclaim his Welsh Roots, by Jasper Rees, is a funny, charming, and poignant account of how one English speaker decided to learn Welsh, as well as learn as much as he could about Welsh culture in general. And the parallels for those of us, especially native English speakers, who have studied, are studying, or are thinking about studying Basque are obvious. Indeed, the two examples I mention below from the book–one negative, one positive–mirror my own experiences of studying Basque in the Basque Country.

First, there is the thorny issue of an “outsider” meeting Welsh people themselves who do not speak Welsh and see no particular point in speaking or studying it – a not untypical and always dispiriting phenomenon for the adult learner of minority (and minoritized) languages.

I’ve been learning Welsh for a few months now, but I’ve yet to have a conversation in Welsh in Wales. Something is holding me back. It’s not just common-or-garden self-consciousness . . . There’s a political dimension to my anxiety too. The overarching fear is that you summon up the courage to ask a question in Welsh, spend an age building the sentence in the language lab in your head . . . and then you go and waste it on a very Welsh-looking person who is di-Gymraeg: a Welsh non-Welsh speaker. In the minefield of the two Waleses, you can very easily cause offence.

However, I’m learning to play the percentages. There are parts of Wales where you can be fairly certain of not being understood . . . In a Black Mountains pub I meet a chirpy old waitress from Pontypool who chats with classical Welsh abandon about her health. I mention I’m learning Welsh. It’s as if I’ve slapped her violently across the face, then spat in her eyes. ‘Oh, are you?’ she sniffs peremptorily, turning her back on me. ‘Nobody speaks Welsh around here,’ she says over her shoulder as she struts out. Her implication is clear: if I were you I wouldn’t bother.

Then there are, though, more uplifting experiences. One afternoon, Rees sets off on a hike in the hills of Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin or Sir Gâr in Welsh), but soon gets lost. Seeking a shortcut to his intended destination, he hurriedly walks past a farm on private land but, on hearing voices behind him, turns around and heads back to a not particularly friendly looking couple in their sixties staring at him.

‘Where are you going?’ It’s the hunched figure of the farmer who calls back. He’s come out of the barn.

‘Over the hill to Caio.’

‘This is private land here.’

‘I’m very sorry. I didn’t realise.’ If I’m honest I did realise.

‘But if you keep on up you get to the path by there.’ He points begrudgingly up the hill, not quite having the heart to send me all the way down into the valley and round. I don’t know how it happens, but the permission kicks a tripwire in my brain.

‘Diolch yn fawr iawn,’ I say. Thank you very much indeed. The farmer’s wife pipes up.

‘Dych chi’n siarad Cymraeg?’ She wants to know if I speak Welsh.

‘Dw i’n dysgu ar hyn o bryd.’ I’m learning at the moment. Then something marvellous happens. Two stony weathered faces crease into the warmest, broadest smiles. It’s as if these few words have raised a portcullis and I’ve passed through to a sunlit inner sanctum.

. . . I suddenly feel I’ve cracked it. I am on the right path.

Check out this article about the book, and for more on Jasper Rees, click here.

Coincidentally, a delegation from the Welsh further education  sector visited the Basque Country recently in order to share good practice on bilingualism in  the post-16 education and training sector. See the delegation’s  fascinating daily blog posts about this four-day visit, which reveal much about just how much progress is being made in regard to sustaining and developing Basque in the education and training sectors, here, here, here, and here.

The CBS publishes a number of books about various aspects of the Basque language. Basque Sociolinguistics: Language, Society, and Culture, by Estibaliz Amorrortu, is a great introduction. It takes a brief look at the history of Basque, outlines its main characteristics, and discusses several issues concerning the language such as gender, social identity, language maintenance/revitalization, and ethnicity. What’s more the book is available free to download here.

The Challenge of a Bilingual Society in the Basque Country, edited by Pello Salaburu and Xabier Alberdi, picks up on many of these same themes and discusses them in more detail. Topics covered include how a legal system is shaped to reflect a bilingual society, the search for and implementation of a standard form of Basque, and the current state of the language (how many people can speak it,  how many people actually use it, and so on),

In The Dialects of Basque, meanwhile, Koldo Zuazo introduces readers to the rich dialectical variation in the language, including a new and groundbreaking classification for these dialects. And Zuazo also makes a case for demonstrating that mutual comprehension among speakers of the different dialects is not as difficult as has previously been assumed.

If you’re interested in studying Basque, check out Alan King’s The Basque Language: A Practical Introduction and Linda White’s two-volume Aurrera! A Textbook for Studying Basque (also available in separate volumes). And a great accompaniment to these grammars is The CBS-Morris Compact English-Basque/Basque-English Dictionary-Hiztegia.

 

Basque Ikastola Teachers Visit CBS

IMG_6810

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!

baratza_pello-errota

Ikastola community garden. Photo taken from Asteasu Ikastola page.

 

Visit the Asteasu ikastola site here (in Basque)