1 Oct, 2017 @ 17:00
2 mins read

EVERYDAY HEROES: Teachers play unheralded yet vital role in Catalan referendum

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AS the sun set on Joseph Maria Jujol, a school in the North of Barcelona, Isabel Safont was going nowhere. Neither were her pupils.

Joseph Maria Jujol was to be opened as a polling centre the following morning.

ALL NIGHTER: The timetable for the ‘parents evening’ at Josep Maria Jujol

Headteacher Ms. Safont had had the innovative idea of hosting an impromptu parents evening in order to keep the school open into the early hours of the night.

Ms. Safont believed that by keeping the school open and full of parents and children, who would also be using the school to vote the next day, the police would be unable to shut the polling station down.

Ms Safont’s colleague, Laid Fonts said they had had no problem with the Mossos, the Catalan police.

However, she says the Spanish National police were a different matter entirely.

It was the second night these teachers were set to sleep over in the school in an attempt to protect their polling station.

All three recalled how the previous night the Spanish National would ring the bells outside every hour, on the hour, to stop anyone inside from getting any rest.

“Let’s not talk about them, they want to provoke us” Ms. Font mutters.

“We are here for peace, to protect the democracy.”

Given the action of the Spanish Police and the Guardia Civil today, her concerns appear to have been justified.

INSPIRATIONAL: Teachers at the Josep Maria Jujol school settle down for their second sleepless night

Both Ms. Safont and Ms. Fonts and other members of staff have faced verbal threats from members of the Spanish police in the lead up to the referendum.

They will not be intimidated.

The teachers appear more concerned with the logistics of their 4am yoga session, which they joke will relax them ahead of the election day.

2,315 schools were registered at polling stations in Catalunya and it is estimated around 200 have been occupied by teachers since Friday.

While much has been publicised today about the bravery shown by activists in the streets of Catalunya – of the farmers driving their tractors to block the streets and of the firemen forming human shields to halt the Guardia Civil, little has been written about the courageous teachers of Catalunya.

They deserve to have their story heard.

Without their incredible bravery, occupying their respective schools, the Spanish National police would have been able to shut the polling stations down.

There would have been no vote, no referendum.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote today, Catalunya should be eternally indebted to these courageous and intrepid individuals.

They are sleeping – or not as the case may be – rough.

Away from family and friends.

Unsure if, how or with what force the Spanish National police will arrive.

PROTECTED: Despite the wet weather, the ‘open evening’ was well attended

The Spanish government in Madrid even threatened individuals like Ms. Safont with fines of over €550,000.

“Something good is going on, it has been so difficult but something positive is going on. We’re moving forward.

“We are just teachers working here.

“Public schools are open to everybody and they belong to the people and not to the state.

“The schools are ours, the parents, the teachers and the children of course, our next generation,” said Ms Safont.

With that comment, the headteacher smiles and takes her leave.

Its 2am and a basketball game is set to start in the sports hall.

Ms. Safont wouldn’t miss it, or this referendum, for anything.


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