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Eguzkibegi ikastola in Galdakao, Basque Country, Spain

Eguzkibegi ikastola is a Basque medium school in Galdakao, a large town near Bilbao in the southern Basque province of Bizkaia. The school has a crêche for very young children who can continue their education at the school until the age of 16. The school itself is in a privileged position standing as it does on a hill overlooking the town and surrounded by a wood.

However, it’s also true to say that the pupils don’t always appreciate the hill! The fact that it is surrounded by trees is a bonus which is not often appreciated until you go to a school that is in the centre of a town. Many of the pupils’ happiest moments are when the teacher, usually the P.E teacher, informs them that they will be going to the Pepeto, a small oak-grove about a 5 minute walk from the school, a walk which often offers an opportunity to see both birds and squirrels.

Languages

Languages are very important to us and our school, like many other “ikastolas”, was a pioneer in teaching English to young children. In fact, the kids start English at the early age of 4 but of course it`s mainly with songs, games and stories. When they go to the secondary school, English is used as the vehicular language to do project work. Later, in the 4th and 5th Form, the pupils learn Social Sciences in English, so the project work is a good preparation for them. French is taught from the age of 12 and is obligatory for all the children. It is only taught  2 hours a week but this allows the pupils in four years to have a good grasp of the basic elements of the language.

The environment

But above all our school is a Basque medium school. It was set up more than 50 years ago when the Basque language was still persecuted by the Franco régime. Our school is part of a federation of similar schools on both sides of the border whose mission is to preserve the Basque language and culture. However, far from being a school interested only in its own language and culture we are very open and modern in outlook and using the latest technology.

As well as that, we are very concerned about the environmental problems that society in general  faces and have recently obtained our Sustainable School Green Flag. We are also proud to be a Fair Trade school and to encourage values of solidarity towards those in our society who are less fortunate.

Finally, it`s also true to say that, although we now have many facilities to teach Basque, it is a constant fight to ensure that our pupils speak the Basque language outside the classroom. Many of our pupils` parents do not speak Basque themselves and although there are many places in the town where you can speak and hear Basque, Spanish is the main language for most people. So, although the Basque language is now officially protected in our area we have to find ways of making it relevant to the lives of our young people.

Sharing experiences

We look forward to work together with young people from schools around Europe in a similar situation; sharing our thoughts, experiences and aspirations.

The slogan that  we have chosen to represent the values of our school projects is Zaindu Maite Duzun Hori!!!, the title of a song by the Basque singer Ruper Ordorika.

Check us out on our website. Unfortunately everything is in Basque but we are planning to add short summaries in English, so we look forward to hearing from you. See you soon!!!