The cross-border challenge at the root of this project is to answer the need for bilingual teachers in French-Basque and in French-Occitan languages for primary schools situated in the French Basque Country that borders the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country in Spain. Indeed, the area is characterised by an increasing demand for bilingual teachers and a lack of suitable applicants. The aim of this project is to increase potential teachers’ linguistic skills. To do so, the first step was to establish a convention between the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), the Public University of Navarre (UPN), the University of Bordeaux and the Bordeaux Montaigne University. This would bring together participants for the validation of their diplomas. The next step was to establish two parallel models of training for each of the languages. 10 annual grants were made available to facilitate learning Basque and 10 biannual grants were made available for French (to prepare Spanish students for the French Master MEEF). Similarly, 3 biannual grants were made available for learning Occitan, and 5 biannual grants for French and Occitan. Another project objective was to lead a sociolinguistic study on the practice and representations of Occitan in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie, and Val d’Aran.
The project has also led to other innovations: the University of Bordeaux created a French learning module for ten students from the Basque Country and Navarre who recently graduated in teaching from the UPV/EHU or the UPN.
The project was carried out by the EGTC Euroregion Aquitaine-Euskadi in close collaboration with the Public Office of the Basque language and the Public Office of the Occitan language. Moreover, the project brought other universities together to pursue its objectives (the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), the Public University of Navarre (UPN), the University of Bordeaux and the Bordeaux Montaigne University).
The project, started in September 2017, was co-funded in the framework of INTERREG V-A Spain- France-Andorra (POCTEFA), with a total funding of €659,660.00. The total ERDF contribution is about €428,779.00 while the other 35% was provided by the project partners. The project ended in September 2020.
Among the main results achieved by the project was the convention held between the partner universities, which paved the way for a sustainable collaboration. The project has trained 25 professors: 10 were trained in French at the University of Bordeaux, and 15 in Basque in Zornotza.
Moreover, among the 25 trained teachers, 23 of them are now employed, with15 being based in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Furthermore, the Public Office of the Occitan language conducted a sociolinguistic study of the language. The results of the study, called ‘Occitan language: State of the arts 2020’, were published in August 2020.