"A reduction of the drop-out rate, expansion of early childhood education, better vocational education and training, increased use of new technologies in education, a better adjustment of higher education to new European standards."
"These are the main issues on which we will seek to reach an agreement with the education community of Spain," the new Spanish minister of education, Angel Gabilondo, told the attendees of the national congress of Spanish education union, Federación estatal sectorial de la Unión General de Trabajadores (FETE-UGT), held in Madrid from 6-8 May.
Gabilondo also said that "education is the cornerstone of inevitable structural changes ahead of us".
Some 300 delegates discussed these and other challenges facing Spain’s education system today, as well as proposals to improve the situation of teachers. FETE-UGT wants the government to increase public spending on non-university education to 7% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and to raise the budget for higher education and research to 4.6% of GDP.
“We cannot afford lagging behind other EU member states when it comes to education spending. Education is one of the most important tools to help us overcome the economic crisis, ” says FETE-UGT General Secretary Carlos López Cortiñas, who was re-elected for another four-year term.
EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, and the General Secretary of the European Trade Union Committee for Education Martin Rømer who addressed the congress’ opening session on 6 May, also discussed the effects of the crisis.
“Increasing investments in quality public education and quality teachers is crucial,” said van Leeuwen.
But he warned that “in the short to medium-term, many of our schools may be threatened with budget cuts; and that many of our members will be threatened with loss of their jobs. In several European countries, such cuts have already been announced.”
He also added that “more than ever, we must fight to defend quality public education funding and make our governments understand that they must hire, not fire. We must make it clear to them that investment in people through education and training is the key to sustainable recovery, to a future economy that will be cleaner and fairer. It is time for us to go on the offensive – globally, nationally and locally.”