Education in Catalonia: more investment, less spin

A few days away from an election destined to be as atypical —dramatic, even— as it is decisive, the educational debate, like debates in all sectors, has taken a back seat. This ought not to be the case, but given the exceptional nature of the present moment, it is only natural. The plebiscitary nature of the election absorbs all our attention. Schools have only been discussed in terribly demagogic terms, with Ciudadanos and the PP calling into question the professionalism of teachers, with their unfair accusations of indoctrination —unfortunately the PSC joined them yesterday— and, once again, questioning Catalan language schooling without foundation: in no instance is Catalan students’ level of Spanish lower than in the rest of Spain. It is necessary to act with determination so that this two-pronged attack on the Catalan school system, which is based on falsehoods, does not take hold.

A good way to combat it would be to show with both actions and figures that education is a priority for the next Catalan government and that, not only will it not interfere with the Catalan school model, but will strengthen it instead. This is precisely what the Bofill Foundation is calling for. Yesterday it presented its annual report on the state of education in Catalonia, in which it estimates that an extra €1.5 billion of additional expenditure is needed to bring Catalonia up to the Spanish average for investment in relation to GDP (3.7% in Catalonia, 4.4% in Spain and 5.1% in Europe, according to 2015 figures, the most recent). It also states that, despite the significant shortfall in the budget, which it attributes to the fiscal deficit and austerity policies, the educational level of primary and secondary Catalan students improved significantly over the 2007-2015 period. This is a positive development that was largely made possible, according to the Bofill Foundation, thanks to the effort of teachers, in spite of the fact that 47% of the cuts were directed at them.

Therefore, a positive objective for Catalonia would be to reward the invaluable work of Catalan schools with more resources that would allow a new leap forward, which, among other benefits —such as adopting innovations, strengthening inclusion and combating exclusion— would put an end once and for all to the disgraceful, self-serving critics who do not deal with reality, but instead distort it, thereby irresponsibly poisoning coexistence within the educational community.