Starting in August of 2012, the Puerto Rican public school system will be introducing a comprehensive Bilingual Generation program. The goal, according to Governor Luis FortuÃ±o, will be “to ensure that in a period of 10 years each and every child who graduates from high school in Puerto Rico is perfectly bilingual, with full command of both Spanish and English.â€
The program will replace Spanish with English as the language used to teach most courses in 66 of the system’s 860 schools. According to Education Secretary Edward Moreno Alonso, in 31 schools children aged 5-9 will be taught all courses in English except history and Spanish. The other 35 schools will offer some of the course work in english, and eventually the government plants to complete the switch to English in all schools within 10 years.
There are differing opinions on the motive of this change in the Puerto Rican public school system. Alonso states that the change is due to parents’ demands. Others believe that the real motive behind the change by FortuÃ±o is to have Puerto Rico annexed to the U.S. as its 51st state. Whatever the case may be, word is that the schools that are implementing the changes have the longest waiting lists, which is a sign that bilingual education is in fact in high demand.
Both Spanish and English are the official languages in Puerto Rico but according to statistics, only 30% of Puerto Rico’s residents speak English at a high level. Spanish is the primary language for 96% of the Puerto Rican population.