National school strike planned for Thursday

SCHOOLS across the country are set to strike on Thursday in protest over the unpopular education reform, known as the LOMCE, still being in place despite politicians’ promises to scrap at least some aspects of it.

Nine organisations, including eight unions have called upon parents, teachers and pupils from infants’ to university level to take to the streets, saying public demonstrations are ‘the most efficient’ way of voicing discontent and calling for changes.

It is expected that most towns and cities across the country will join in, and schools could be shut for the day, so parents who cannot join in the march and take their youngsters with them should contact their children’s centres to find out whether classes will still be going ahead.

Whilst Parliament agreed to cease the effects of the LOMCE – thanks to the opposition’s majority vote – the PP minority government has appealed against the decision to the Constitutional Court, a move that has upset PTAs nationwide.

A ‘lack of leadership’ in the ministry of education concerning job offers in the teaching trade and its decision to reduce the number of graduate intern teachers – who make up an average of 20% nationally and, in some regions, up to 40% of school staff – and the so-called ‘education pact’ the government promised for this year, which teachers and parents view as ‘purely political rather than social’ are among other reasons for the strike.

Also, with Spain ordered by Brussels to make adjustments in order to reach its debt targets, the teaching profession fears this could lead to cuts of up to €1 billion in spending on education.

The LOMCE, introduced by former education minister José Ignacio Wert, was met with mass opposition from day one as schools and parents considered it to contain elements which ‘indoctrinate’ students in right-wing political thinking, and believe it makes unfair distinctions at a very young age between children who may be academically successful and those thought to be, euphemistically, ‘good with their hands’.

Pupils are ‘sorted’ into vocational and academic routes in their early teens, the former being of dubious professional value at that age, meaning ‘late bloomers’ or pupils with an exceptionally high IQ who gain poor results because of lack of stimulation could be condemned to an adult life as ‘factory fodder’, when they may otherwise have been very successful.

This is the view of the school community, which also considers that too much emphasis is placed upon pure numbers, such as exam scores, rather than taking a more holistic view of academic performance, and at the detriment to other vital life skills taught in schools such as social sensitivity and emotional intelligence.

Published Think Spain08 March 2017

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