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Spanish educational reforms raise controversy

On 17 May 2013, the Spanish Council of Ministers gave the green light to the draft Organic Law for Improving Educational Quality (LOMCE). Proposed by the Minister of Education, Culture and Sport, José Ignacio Wert, the draft bill comes as a response to alarming developments in the crisis-hit education sector in Spain: 24.7% of young people drop out of school before the age of 16, double that of other European countries. Combined with a youth unemployment rate exceeding 57% and 23.7% of young people between 15 and 29 neither working nor studying, these statistics point to some significant problems in the Spanish education sector.

The new bill is accompanied by severe spending cuts - no surprise it is facing strong opposition from political parties, civil society and semi-autonomous regional governments. Students, teachers and parents are protesting on the streets against the adoption of the bill, which they deem recentralizing and aimed at controlling the teachers and the curriculum. Spain has already been warned by the European Union against spending less in education after the education ministry's budget was cut by 14% between 2012 and 2013. However, the Spanish government argues that the investment in education has doubled in the last decade (from EUR 27 000 million to 53 000 million) and has promised to reduce the current dropout rate to 15% by 2020. One of the measures to achieve this goal is to make pupils choose between a vocational or academic pathway of study in their fourth year of secondary education (approx. age 15), considered by many as early age segregation. Potentially, this reform could have a considerable impact on the recruitment of higher education students in Spain.

The draft law is due to be debated in Parliament this fall. Most likely, the bill will be passed successfully given the ruling party’s absolute majority in the Spanish parliament.

Spanish Ministry of Education – Press Release (in Spanish)