Education in Spain: radiography in 10 keys

Eight million students of primary and secondary education return in the next two weeks to the classrooms in a new beginning of course.

Vacations are over, summer is behind and, as is recurrent, with September starts the new school year. More than eight million elementary and high school students will once again set foot on a school. Nothing new under the sun? This is an x-ray in 10 keys about the state of education in Spain and how the classes begin:

1. The level, measure the quality

Not everything fits into a clock, a scale, a barometer or a scale from one to ten. Not everything is easily measurable. How can we know if education in Spain is good (or bad, as we probably tend to think)? One of the most established attempts is the Pisa report of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Although his appearance almost always provoked some trembling of legs – we never left well stopped – the last one leaves signs of hope. We continue to have a rate of young people between 18 and 24 years old leaving the classrooms with only the anomalously high compulsory secondary education (ESO), 19.7%, and it seems unlikely that the objective of Abandonment reaches a maximum of 15% (with the exception of girls, who already touch 15.5%); But in mathematics, reading and science we are just below the European average and immediately above Russia, Italy, Portugal or even the United States.

Another study that crosses the two reports that the OECD elaborates on students and teachers draws clear conclusions: that a professor holds a doctorate degree is 5.5 times more important than any other transversal training that he or she holds; That there are few students per classroom influences 3.5 times more than the possibility that they have to use during the learning new technologies. Difficult, of course, in a country that between 2012 and 2014 lost 24,248 teachers, according to the Ministry of Education, and is recovering with parsimony.

2. The invoice, what took the crisis

Educational spending has fallen by 8,920 million and falls to levels of 25 years ago. The money allocated by Administrations has increased from 53,895 million to 44,974, while the number of students has increased by 7.7%. Of the total GDP, only 3.89% is expected to go in 2016 for education, one point less than in 2012 the rest of OECD countries assigned on average. The greater cuts affected teacher training and compensatory education for laggards, which has aggravated the inequality in a system that already received the nth ear pulling by the many students who repeated course and who took off and lost interest.

For families, for each household, for each son or daughter attending class, the start of the course will cost between 125 and 500 euros, according to estimates of the major parent federations. These amounts do not contemplate anything more than the books and school material. The calculation of how much would be the total is complex, depends on too many variables, if they are enrolled in a public or private school, the Autonomous Community in which they reside, if they wear uniforms, but in all cases the major expense they incur is Of textbooks and school supplies. Just unlike in other European countries.

3. Reválidas or a future that looks like 1970

For the first time since 1970, half a million students in the 4th year of ESO and 2nd year of high school will have to face external and national exams that corroborate that they have learned what they were supposed to learn. If they do not approve, they lose the right to obtain the title. Throughout 2017 will still be an essay, from 2018 will count to get the diploma. Only five EU countries (Portugal, Russia, Italy, Estonia and Malta) do similar tests in compulsory education, eight others use them to ensure that curricula are being fulfilled, although they are not binding.

More than 80% of the teaching community, the main unions and even the associations of institute directors reject the plan revalidations. They argue that they can expel boys after four years of study, that in times of enhancing continuous learning, they again run the risk of teaching to pass an exam instead of acquiring knowledge and skills, as is already the case with Selectivity. Play it to a letter, with what it entails, and underestimate the day to day.

4. Homework, take work home

Classes can not be used to correct home-made exercises, explain the theory between them, and send a new list of tasks, then. Okay, right? Obvious. We have left behind the era of masterful lessons, have not we? According to the OECD we should not be so sure. Students, even those who have a lower performance – and without being seen to improve – spend 4.7 hours a week solving homework. One and a half more than the rest of Europe. The confederation of families of the public, the Ceapa, began before the summer a crusade that tried to avoid that the centers entrusted tasks in the months of rest to the children and will continue now chasing what they denominate a “rationalization of the duties outside the school schedule “. Practice makes perfect, the saying goes, and maybe class time is not enough, but the discussion of what to do with homework is open.

5. The schedules, the long summers

Cantabria opens a calendar to the French: every two school months, a week of vacations. They cut 15 days of the summer break and eliminate the exams of September. The purpose is to establish a model with five bimester and evaluation periods more bearable. Thus before Christmas teachers have the opportunity to correct the imbalances that they find and to channel the course of whoever suffers them. Ramon Ruiz, who before being an Education Counselor was a teacher, believes that they will improve performance. The council of pedagogues sees only subjectivities and no solid argument to defend the measure, the parents complain that no one consulted them and wonder, logically, how they will now reconcile their work with the free time of their children. What are the children going to do during those weeks?

6. Bilingualism, pending subject

Slow, but routed. The next generations will break the topic and speak English when they leave school. Preparation of teaching staff in foreign universities, in Great Britain, the United States or Canada; The irruption of native conversation aids in classrooms; And a methodological change, which among other things, has increased the number of weekly teaching hours and has made it possible to teach some subjects in English (except mathematics, language and literature), are some of the measures applied by most of the autonomous communities One at its own pace) to achieve bilingualism. Speaking two languages ​​perfectly improves your ability to learn. A joint study by the Ministry of Education and the British Council on the experience of 120 Spanish public schools shows that three out of four students obtain a note of outstanding or outstanding in the external tests of Trinity College or The University of Camdridge. In Madrid, dean in the implementation of this initiative, the big problem was the lack of both teachers and teachers in possession of a C-1 certificate. One danger, perceptible now, is that children who go to bilingual schools whose parents do not speak English are exposed to another gap and are in inferiority. Who will help them with their homework?

7. Extracurricular or how to have the busy schedule

In Spain, 90% of students with compulsory education (between 6 and 16 years old) do some extracurricular activity. More than half of them are targeted at two or more per week. Sports (72.8%), followed by languages ​​(28.4), music or dance (24.9%), drawing or painting (22.3%) and computer science (21.2%) are the According to the Evaluation Institute of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. While they can be helpful for children to learn how to organize and acquire discipline, an overload can lead to stress and self-defeat. What are you going to aim for this course?

8. Philosophy loses weight in high school.

The LOMCE eliminates the subject of History of the Philosophy of second of Bachillerato. But the mobilization of intellectuals and teachers has caused communities to react. Nine regions have recovered it as mandatory in the margin left by the law. This discipline also lost weight in compulsory secondary education (ESO). Thus, it is possible that a student leaves high school without ever hearing about Kant or Descartes.

9. Public or concerted

Since 2010, according to the study Accounts of Education in Spain 2000-2013, the BBVA Foundation and the Valencian Institute of Economic Research (Ivie), Administrations have cut funding per student of the public school 25% more than the The concerted (private subsidized with public funds). While in the Basque Country half of the children study in schools with a concert, in Castilla-La Mancha only 14.6% prefer them to the public. In Valencia the controversy attracts a confrontation between the PP, which accuses the Generalitat of wanting to eradicate the concerted, and PSOE and Compromis, which ensure that the previous governments favored it unfairly. The Supreme Court endorses the closure of classrooms only when the demographic decline causes the ratio teacher / student to stay below the legal limit and there are places in public centers. Meanwhile, beyond the right of parents to choose which school to take their children, it is still impossible to detect or judge whether one model is better than another for them.

10. The role of the teacher and his evaluation.

All parties say they agree on the need to reform education, starting with the way teachers continue until they are, their education. But no one knows how.
Meanwhile, Spanish classrooms continue to be like the black box of an airplane: all the information is inside, but it is impossible to know it from the outside. This example cited by an institute director is very illustrative: 36% of teachers in Spain have never been supervised or allowed another teacher to attend a class of his. That index, in the rest of Europe, is 9%. In some countries of the external standardized tests, as they are now the new reválidas that includes the LOMCE, a complement of the salary of the professors depends. In Spain the educational group has been reluctant to evaluate to them from outside. The main reason that Finland is Finland, the myth a hundred times acclaimed, the educational system that everyone wants to emulate – almost always without trying – are their teachers, their training and the reverential respect they profess. Something must be done here to make sure that the education of our children is the best of the possible. But what?