Spain’s female teachers of the Second Spanish Republic have received the award 8 de marzo, in acknowledgement of the important work carried out by them during the 1930s.
The award was made by one of EI’s affiliates in Spain, FETE-UGT, to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March. The award honours the professional careers of those female teachers and their trade union work focussed on achieving a progressive model of society. In a significant effort to preserve this historic memory, the trade union wished to rescue their names from oblivion and pay homage to these committed and brave women.
The female teachers of the Republic supported an overhaul of the pedagogic model, regardless of the difficulties that they encountered. Society, at the time, was not prepared to accept the vanguard educational practices that introduced coeducation, a pedagogical principle that favours respect and harmony between the sexes. Similarly, they introduced practical and experimental teaching in the classroom.
Education represented one of the key social commitments of the Second Republic. During that period, this involved articulating an educational model that improved access to secondary education and universities for the poorest sectors of the population, as well as a school rooted in the environment and needs of rural areas, which at the time suffered from extreme neglect.
As such, the female teachers of the Republic defended a model of compulsory public education that was free, secular, bi-lingual and founded upon solidarity, and one that attempted to end centuries of discrimination based on gender and social class.
This period was violently cut short by the outbreak of the Civil War and the subsequent Franco dictatorship that lasted several decades (1939-1975). Along with the dictatorship came repression and exile for a large number of these female teachers. But many of them continued teaching, even under the shadow of fear. The Franco regime was particularly irritated by their image as women liberated from the submission that, at that time, was imposed by social customs.
Decades were to pass until Spain was able to count on a generation of teachers with such thorough training as those from this period.
"Nowadays, public education suffers widespread cuts and equality advancements seem institutionally fragile and insufficiently recognised", said EI Coordinator for Equality, Rebeca Sevilla.
“At times like today, it is important to remember the work of those women who in complicated situations worked hard to achieve an equal society, fundamentally through education, but also through social and trade union participation. Let them serve as an inspiration to everyone, both men and women”, she concluded.
To find out more about the female teachers of the Republic click here(blog in Spanish)
To read the joint manifesto by FETE-UGT and FECCOO on the occasion of International Women’s Day click here (in Spanish)