Our children happen to be in a good, half-private (concertada) school, but we have moved here to stay and have to see to society as a whole. Therefore, I am truly upset to see how poorly the Spanish school system fares in international comparisons.
According to a recent study, Spanish schools have the third the highest drop-out rate in the European Union, 29,6%% versus the EU average at 15,3%. Only Malta and Portugal are worse and this is not a simple question about money, since some poorer countries like the Czech Republic and Poland stand out for their low figures.
The situation is rightly being critizised by the conservative PP and the Catalan liberals in CiU and both parties talk about the need to restore respect for teachers. With the amount of unfavourable data available, it is not surprising that the ruling prime minister, socialist Zapatero, is trying to make a pre-emptive strike. If he wins the elections, he now promises reforms which will put a focus on the English language, mathematics and general reading comprehension.
As long as the parties keep their promises, whoever will form the new government, public education should thus become a priority. But improving the reading comprehension will be the key to success and that is a huge task since 25,7% of Spanish pupils currently have difficulties. All parents to children of school age had better take note. As expats we are not allowed to vote, but that does not meant that we can allow ourselves to think that the coming elections concern only those with a Spanish passport.