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Debate over bilingual schools in Carinthia could be taken to the Council of Europe

Von: Eurolang/News-Service (eigener Bericht)
Datum: 01.06.00
Uhrzeit: 07:54:07
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Carinthian Slovenes will consider taking their claims in favour of bilingual education in their region to the Council of Europe if current plans affect rights they say are enshrined in the Austrian Constitution.

The whole discussion has started, as the Austrian Constitutional Court in Vienna decided to support the Slovene minority in their demands for more bilingual education. As a reaction to the decision, political parties in Carinthia try to use the upcoming discussion to implement some other legal proposal against the minorities declared interests.

The Carinthian parliament has approved a proposal that would mean neither teachers nor school heads would be required to be bilingual to work in Carinthian schools. If this proposal, which got unanimous approval from all three parties in the parliament of the province, the conservatives ÖVP, the socialdemocrats SPÖ and the Jorg Haider’s governing freedomparty FPÖ, were accepted by the Federal government in Vienna.

“The Austrian government would not be fulfilling the promises it made”, said Bernhard Sadovnik, chairman of the Council of Carinthian Slovenes, quoted by Carinthian daily Kleine Zeitung. Mr Sadovnik was referring to the declarations the Austrian government made in the face of EU worries over Haider’s possible inclusion in the Austrian government.

Marjan Strum, Chairman of the Central organisation of Carinthian Slovenes, the other major minority organisation in the province, said to Eurolang that the acceptance of the Carinthian governments proposal would go against the regulations of the European Framework Convention for Minorities. His organisation will consider taking the matter to the Council of Europe if necessary.

The current debate about bilingual schools in the Austrian province of Carinthia came to a head on Tuesday, when a special committee of the Carinthian parliament voted to send its proposal on education in the province to Vienna to be passedinto federal law. According to Kleine Zeitung the proposal contains a number of major changes.

Classes with a mixture of children who speak Slovene and German have up until now been taught by bilingual teachers. Schools in bilingual parts of the province are headed by bilingual principals. German-speaking groups like the Carinthian Home Service, KHD, have protested against this practice. The new peoposals mean this could change in favour of monolingual staff.

The KHD has requested respect from the minorities where the education interests of the majority are concerned. Representatives of the Slovene community will have a chance to meet the Carianthian parliamentary committee next Tuesday, according to Marjan Sturm. This will be their chance to make their opinion heard before the text is sent to Vienna, where the modification in the law on education in Carinthia needs parliamentary approval before it becomes effective. A two-thirds majority is required in the Federal parliament for a law like this to be passed.

Backgrounds of the current discussion (in German): http://www.hrvatskicentar.at/forum2/_disc/00000072.htm and http://www.hrvatskicentar.at/forum2/_disc/0000004b.htm

Stand: 01. Juni 2000