Spain: frozen investment and reduced budgets overshadow the new school year

published 18 September 2017 updated 20 September 2017

A new school year is meant to be filled with anticipation and excitement, but in Spain government financial gridlock has the teachers’ union FECCOO warning of rising inequalities and cracks in the country’s education system.

Nine years after the beginning of the economic crisis, the Spanish education system is suffering from chronic underfunding, frozen budgets and surging inequality, this is according to the Spanish education union FECCOO, one of Education International’s (EI) member organisations in the country.

The union has made its views public during a press conference where it has regretted that, despite the economic upturn from 2015, investment in education has not followed the same path. FECCOO attributes the current situation to a lack of political will from the conservative party in power, the Partido Popular (PP), led by Mariano Rajoy. It has underlined that teacher rights and the right to education have been collateral damages of these policies.

A statement issued by the union declares that “the economic crisis has been paid for with deep cuts in the budgets catering for social rights like the right to education”. Public spending has been especially reduced in equality-fostering measures such as scholarships and diversity programmes, thus severely affecting students from less social and economically advantaged families.

Less investment, fewer teachers

Investment in education decreased by 13.2 percent between 2009 and 2015, reaching an all-time low of 4.29 percent of Spanish GNP in 2014. While in 2016 the GNP resembled, due to the positive economic cycle, that of 2008, the budgetary cuts and reductions ordered by the government have been on-going.

Employment in the education sector has shrunk for the fourth consecutive year, with 20.000 fewer teachers than in 2010. On top of this, the quality of employment for teachers has become more precarious: today, one out of every four teachers in Spain is hired with a temporary contract. This represents an increase of 64 percent compared to 2011.

The statement concludes that the economic cycle that is lifting up the Spanish economy is absent from its education system. In order to solve this, the trade union’s demands focus on the derogation of the latest education reforms and the bargaining of a new employment plan in education, which would include the creation of more than 150.000 jobs.