As the gloomy faces of children marks the return to school for the next academic year, the unfair imbalance of investment becomes even clearer to see than ever before, with some 7,489 students in primary education in Orihuela, and 6,271 in Torrevieja.
With cuts affecting education across the whole country, we are aware of the limited budget available to the regional education authority, under the control of the Partido Popular, and, for whatever the reason, we are already aware that PP run Torrevieja has benefitted from being one of the few municipalities to receive a hefty amount of money, whereas in Orihuela, the local government which is led by a bi-party coalition of the psoe and Los Verdes have not been so lucky, with many students returning to portacabin classrooms, where entire generations have spent the most important part of their early learning experiences.
In his usual start of term announcement the mayor of Torrevieja, Eduardo Dolón from the PP, said that he was particularly delighted at the continued reduction in class sizes which once again would be well below the Ministry of Education recommendation of 30 students per class, as the average number of pupils in classrooms in Torrevieja is 25 pupils per teacher.
Dolón made his statement about class sizes whilst visiting the C.P. Acequión school, on their first day back in term, when he said that the current class size in Torrevieja averaged just 25 students per class and although one or two schools are slightly higher than he would like, with Gratiniano Baches having 28.11 and La Purísima with 30.11, Ciudad de Oviedo has just 18.93 pupils per class.
Over in Orihuela however, the story is the exact opposite. Councillor for education in the municipality, Rosa Martínez of the PSOE, is far from satisfied that students returning to the portacabin school of the Virgen del Camino, are crammed together into class sizes of 42 pupils per teacher, on a 300 square metre site, with no playground, library and three portacabins, which Martínez says doesn´t even comply with the “legal regulations”, although rehabilitated would mean the school could “accommodate more children of the municipality who could attend school with dignity”, although the remodelling would cost 240,000 euro, which is the direct responsibility of the regional government, the same source who are funding the renewal of schools in Torrevieja.
It is a similar situation on the Orihuela Costa, at the IES Playa Flamenca, where physical conditions are particularly bleak for the students and staff who have to work in the facility, let alone the fact that the school facilities are grossly inadequate to facilitate learning, even worse when it rains, as the school is on the bank of a water flow down to the sea. In the Playas de Orihuela de la Costa, where pupils are starting their tenth year in portacabins, conditions are worse than what many would like prisoners to be served in, where there is no room for exercise, and hardly enough room to eat, although that is more than the public college of el Manjón, which has no dining room at all.
Orihuela currently has a total of 7 schools which have some level of work outstanding, whether that be repairs or the completion of the construction, the regional department of education are still not prepared to provide any kind of information as to when work may actually continue, persistently ignoring requests from the local government team.
In July of this year, the Orihuela Mayor, Monserrate Guillén, met with the Regional Secretary of Education in Valencia, Rafael Carbonell, after the regional head finally gave in to the demands for a meeting, but time was still wasted as there was “still no news of the agreement after two years of broken promises”. The local council team did emphasise the “urgent need for the classrooms to be rehabilitated as soon as possible in order to provide adequate facilities to the students who attend the centres daily”, using theSecondary School in playa flamenca and the classrooms of the Virgen del Camino to emphasise their case which has still not been resolved by the regional administration.
Of course it´s not just the local area affected by cuts in education, tighter rules for scholarships, increasing tuition fees and the ongoing debate about educational reform. As a direct result of their ongoing battle with the national government, teachers across spain have called for a day of industrial action to take place in October and November.
The Plataforma Estatal por la Escuela Pública, an organisation composed of parents, students and teaching unions, has announced a general strike on the 24th of October, on which day they hope to bring together widespread support for the education sector from all levels of society.
Prior to the strike, there is expected to be concentrations in from of all schools and universities, as well as a call for signatures in support of education, the results of which will be presented to the President of the Government, Mariano Rajoy, on the 17th of October.
After the October strike, the platform intends to launch on a “Green March” from across the country, culminating in an event at the Government buildings in Madrid, with a second general strike already planned for November.
Last year, peaceful protests formed a key part of highlighting the believed inadequacies of the government. Quite what will happen this year remains to be seen, but as the national education minister, José Ignacio Wert, saying live on TV that the protests were, “like a birthday party” compared to those in Chile and Mexico, it is quite obvious that the lack of respect shown by the government lead will be seen by those who care about education as yet another insult by the Rajoy government.
Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/40639/