Education International
Education International

Spain: Public education strike over education cuts and reforms

published 3 May 2013 updated 8 May 2013

The Plataforma Estatal por la Escuela Pública (State Platform for Public Education) has called for a strike on 9 May at every level of education in Spain. The platform is made up of EI’s affiliated trade unions - FECCOO, FETE-UGT, STEs and CSI-CSIF - as well as student organisations and parents’ associations.

Spain’s education community will use the strike to express its unanimous rejection of the reform plans imposed by the Education Ministry, under the leadership of José Ignacio Wert.  These reforms are an attack on several fronts - on primary and secondary education, on university education and on the education powers of local governments.

Ideological reform

Wert’s Organic Law for Improving Education Quality (LOMCE) makes far-reaching changes to the current Organic Education Action (LOE, 2006) which has been in force for barely six years.  So far, no group of pupils has been educated throughout their entire school attendance under the terms of this law, and there has been no evaluation of its efficacy.

The unions believe the reforms promote an elitist, retrograde educational model. Pupils are segregated at an early age into educational streams of differing levels, while access to higher education is restricted due to a sharp rise in university fees.

There is also an obsessive attention to external evaluations, without teacher participation. The curriculum is also restricted, downgrading holistic approaches to teaching that are fundamental to the development of the individual. At the same time, the educational powers of local governments are being cut, hugely hampering the possibility of developing education policy at a regional level.

In short, unions warn that the reforms are opening the pathway to the covert privatisation of public education.

Drastic cuts

Since 2010, Spain has lost almost one-third of its education resources, with budget cuts of over €6.3 billion euros.  Thousands of jobs have been lost at every level and stage of education, while the working conditions of education professionals have deteriorated.

Grants and assistance to those most in need have been drastically reduced;  many forms of support and compensation for pupils with learning difficulties have been eliminated; and there has been an exorbitant rise in fees for certain levels of education, such as early childhood education, vocational training, and university education.

International solidarity

At the international seminar held in Lisbon in May, within the framework of the Congress of EI affiliate FENPROF, 37 unions from 22 countries from Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa supported a resolution proposed by the Spanish unions opposing LOMCE and Spain’s education cuts.

EI has also expressed its support for the Spanish unions and its full backing for their defence of public education and the teaching profession.

“Education in Spain, particularly public education, is in serious jeopardy,” stated EI’s General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen. “It is time for open public dialogue and for a wide-ranging debate with the education community to analyse the real problems in the sector and find the most appropriate solutions.”

Click here to read the Spanish unions’ resolution.