Historically schools have been used to favour certain languages and cultures to the detriment of others, which have been marginalized, for the sake of the modern nation state. Schools can help, with their traditional functions (mainly pedagogical, but also political, ethical and so on), to recover such historically discriminated against languages. In this article the author compares real cases which relate to this issue. In cases like Ireland and Algeria, political independence has been shown not to help restore languages and cultures, while in other cases like Greece, Norway and Finland it was precisely that political independence that was needed in order for there to be partial success. There are also other cases like Quebec and Belgium where this process of recovery has been brought about in other ways. The author concludes with some proposals that may be generalized to all of these comparative cases.