News / Europe

Education Cuts, Higher Costs Spark Protests in Spain

Students enter Luis Vives secondary school as teachers protest cuts in public education in Valencia, Spain, September 14, 2012.
Students enter Luis Vives secondary school as teachers protest cuts in public education in Valencia, Spain, September 14, 2012.
Caroline Arbour
University, primary and secondary school students are returning to classrooms in Spain against the backdrop of an economic crisis that is affecting education. The loss of subsidies coupled with the increased costs of education also are having an effect in other troubled European economies.

Antonio Caseado is lining up at the unemployment office. After two years working as an interim high school teacher, he is out of a job.

Caseado is one of 4,000 teachers in the Spanish province of Andalusia who have been laid off as a result of a 21-percent budget cut included in the government’s austerity package, unveiled last spring.
 
Unions estimate that tens of thousands of primary and secondary school teachers are finding themselves in Caseado’s position. Those who remain have seen their teaching hours increase and in some regions, the number of students in their classrooms has grown.

Spain’s largest labor union worries these are not temporary measures to bring the country’s finances out of the red.

"The government is trying to change our education system," said Labor leader Manuela Martínez, who heads the General Workers’ Union in Granada. "And they are using the crisis as an excuse to do what they are doing. If they continue, nobody in Spain will really recognize what we had.”

There is another problem. Cuts to subsidies for textbooks and for cafeteria meals, coupled with the increases in the value-added tax, have made back-to-school very expensive for families.

The consumers’ defense organization [OCU] estimates parents will have to spend an average of about $670 per child.

Spaniards seeking access to higher education also will feel the impact. Scholarship programs have been reduced and tuition at public universities has gone up by as much as 50 percent in some places.

Adding to the grim situation, about one-in-five unemployed Spaniards is a university graduate.

The Organization for Economic Development says Spain spends 21 percent more than the average OECD-member country spends on education, yet its students have some of the worst outcomes on international tests.

And a recent OECD report warns of the effects of further cuts on accessibility.

OECD Deputy Director for Education Andrea Schleicher said the crisis highlights the need for more highly-skilled workers.

“Over the past decade more than two-thirds of economic growth in the European Union was driven by labor-income growth. That is basically better skills,” said Schleicher.

He added that it has driven growth in the majority of EU countries, even in the midst of the recession.

But even if higher education may be key to dampening the effects of the crisis, other debt-ridden countries, like Spain, have chosen to slash spending in that area.

Greece has decreased its education budget by 23 percent since 2009.

Italy cut university scholarships by 90 percent and laid off more than 100,000 teachers, though deeper measures were averted by widespread protests in 2010.

Additionally, the European Students’ Union reports thousands of Portuguese university students have been forced to drop out because of reductions in support services.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rob Swift from: United Kingdom
September 17, 2012 4:14 PM
I understand that the Spanish economy is in a far worse state than they let on. It follows on from a complete collapse of a boom based on property which now stands there incomplete (no certificates of habitation means the electricity and water cannot be turned on) or paid for but only part built as the builders have all gone broke. Buyers have lost everything after having signed up to pay.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid