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

    Multimedia US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora