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Sociolingüística internacional
Summer 2002

Bai Euskarari Ziurtagiria. The Bai Euskarari Certificate, by Roberto Gutiérrez

The Bai Euskarari Certificate is the symbol by which social agents transmit to the whole of society their commitment to the task of revitalizing Euskera (the Basque language). At the same time, the public finds in this image a satisfactory response to its demands of revitalizing the language since it receives the commitment of the social agents to carry it out. The Certificate, thus, has managed to bring together the two keys of this process: the intention of the social agents and recognition of the public regarding this effort.
This certificate is framed in the commitment and agreement process of the Bai Euskarari Agreement and the consequent drawing up of a Strategic Plan for revitalizing Euskera. The characteristics of this process should be understood within its principles.

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1. Background of the Bai Euskarari Certificate
1.1 The Council of Social Organizations of Euskara, Kontseilua
1.2 The Bai Euskarari Agreement
1.3 Agreement and commitment process

2. The Bai Euskarari Certificate
2.1 Objectives of the Certificate
2.2 Levels of Certification
2.3 Conditions for Obtaining the Certificate
2.4 Following up and evaluating the agreements
2.5 Cost, use, and promotion of the image of the Certificate
2.6 The Bai Euskarari Certificate in the future

1. Background of the Bai Euskarari Certificate

1.1 The Council of Social Organizations of Euskera, Kontseilua

Kontseilua –The Council of Social Organizations of Euskera- is the organization that is in charge of managing the Bai Euskarari Certificate. It was founded in 1997 after some years of reflection and a confluence process with the objective of bringing together all businesses, federations, and non-institutional organizations that work in the field of revitalizing Euskera. Although the size of  Kontseilua is relatively small when it comes to personnel and budget, the group of organizations represented is quite important in the society. There are 50 members that bring together hundreds of businesses and associations with a total of 6000 workers, 240,000 members, and a cash flow of around 300 million euros per year. Not all the organizations working for Euskera are represented in Kontseilua, however, many of them are like ikastolas (schools teaching in Basque), parents’ associations, institutes for teaching Euskera to adults like AEK and IKA, the newspaper Egunkaria, and big Basque publishing houses and distributors. Even the Academy of Euskera Euskaltzaindia and the Society of Basque Studies Eusko Ikaskuntza participate as observing members.

From the start, Kontseilua has considered the revitalization of Euskera an especially worrying process. Assuming that things have advanced a lot over the last few decades, there is a criticism of the linguistic policies drawn up in the institutions as well as a self-criticism in the sense that the social movement of the language has not known how to develop more efficient revitalization programs nor have a proper impact on social and political-institutional sectors in order to stimulate the speeding up of things in the process. From this double consideration comes Kontseilua’s activity: an activity of reflection is being carried out internally that is going to gain considerable momentum in the next few months; the Bai Euskarari Agreement has taken an external position as a project to make an impact on social and political environments.

1.2 The Bai Euskarari Agreement

By signing the Bai Euskarari Agreement, social agents demonstrate the resolute determination of our society so that Euskera carries on and so that it develops over a third millennium, which is not guaranteed nowadays. The key to this process lies in involving each class of the society. The Agreement consists of the following commitments:

  1. A commitment to participate in a process that directs the revitalization of Euskera for good.

  2. A commitment to drawing up and applying a Strategic Plan of linguistic revitalization that will analyze the state of the language by sector and geographic area, determine the necessary measures, and put into practice specific and voluntary agreements on the part of each participating entity in coherence with the current institutional plans.

  3. To extend an invitation to all social agents of the Basque Country to participate in this agreement and commitment dynamics.

Over the spring and summer of 1998, Kontseilua met three social agents, each of them a leader in its field: Athletic Club of Bilbao, MCC-Mondragón Corporación Cooperativa and the ELA labor union. The three organizations were fully prepared to participate in this initiative.

1.3 Agreement and commitment process

1.3.1 Support of important organizations in order to complete the promoting group

The approval expressed by the aforementioned entities created a much greater chain reaction than expected and 80 % of the organizations that were invited expressed that they were prepared to become part of the promoting group. This task was carried out alongside the Bai Euskarari campaign whose objective was to dramatize the majority support of the society for the revitalization of Euskera with the intent of creating an adequate social and media environment for the social agents. In culmination of the campaign, an unprecedented mobilization, 123,000 people (out of a total population of 2.9 million) simultaneously participated in an act held in five soccer stadiums in the subsequent Basque capital cities. The support rallied in a number of social and political sectors, the collaboration of certain institutions, and the involvement of Euskal Telebista (Basque public television that broadcast the event via satellite) were crucial. On the other hand, it would have been very difficult to attain such success if it hadn’t been for a climate of easing of tension in September of that same year, and if it hadn’t been for the agreement between the Basque nationalist parties that created a special predisposition in the society to participate in these types of initiatives.

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