Education International
Education International

Spain: Teacher demonstrations mark the start of new school year

published 16 September 2011 updated 20 September 2011

Representatives of the main teaching unions in Spain have called on the Socialist central government to take ‘a clear stand’ against deep cuts in public education budgets that have been imposed by largely Conservative autonomous regional authorities within the country.

Union leaders from EI’s affiliates, FETE-UGT, CCOO and FE-STES, gathered at the Ministry of Education in Madrid, on 15 September, to deliver a joint statement to the Secretary of State for Education and Training, Mario Beder.

The statement in defence of public schools explained how: ‘In response to the crisis, the government is inflicting brutal attacks on the public education system. Only this year, it is expected to reduce our national education budget by 2,000 million euros’.

The Spanish regions most affected by the cuts are Madrid, Galicia, Catalonia, Castilla-La Mancha and Navarre.

The cuts will result in 3,000 temporary teachers being laid off in Madrid at the start of this school year, adding to the 1,500 who were lost in the previous year. Teachers’ salaries have also decreased between five and ten per cent over the last year.

At the same time, the ratio of pupils to teachers has risen by five per cent, increasing class sizes, as well as adding two more contact hours per week for teachers from the beginning of the new school year.

The unions have argued that increasing contact hours can only be achieved to the detriment of tutorials and preparation time for lessons, both of which are key elements for quality teaching.

One teacher, who has been affected by the layoffs in Madrid, said: “If there’s no money, it means there’s no money for anyone. If you have to cut 80 million euros to pay for teachers in public education, why are you simultaneously giving subsides worth 90 million euros to private schools?"

The Spanish unions insist that they will continue with their protests if the autonomous regional authorities do not put an end to the cuts.

On 20 September, to coincide with the start of the new school year, demonstrations are being organised across the country. On 22 October, there will be a march for education in Madrid under the slogan: ’Day of struggle for the defence of public education’.