Saturday, February 9, 2013

A TV program about the Educational System in Spain

Salvados is one of my favourite TV programs in Spain. Furthermore, its director and presenter, Jordi Évole, has created a new style of doing television and  dealing with controversial issues, which I find particularly interesting. If I am not mistaken, the program has just started its sixth season. And the first program boldly attempts to address a controversial "education" issue in Spain.

To give you some figures about the educational system in Spain:
  • The government is preparing its seventh Education Law since 1978. Any new government  has promulgated a new General Education Policy. In most cases,  these policies were never implemented properly.
  • The results in the PISA report for Spain are mediocre at best.
  • Spain has one of the highest rates in Europe of students abandoning the school system before graduation (over 30%).
  • About 32% of students attend private schools or  publicly funded private schools, the second highest percentage in Europe, according to the TV program.
  • Due to the crisis, in the last year's the cuts in education have meant, among other things, that teachers have increased instructional hours and obviously, larger classes (as many as 30 in elementary education and 35 in secondary).
The presenter talks to a university professor and visits a school in Barcelona to offer a vision of education in Spain. Unfortunately, everyone involved in the documentary has a negative opinion on how things have gone in the last years. It seems that the education system in Spain has not been able to keep pace with the last pedagogical and technological advances. The perception you get after watching the program is theres is a disjoint between society and schools and that something must be done about it.
To complete his vision on education and find answers, the presenter visits a school in Finland, which traditionally has occupied the top positions in the PISA reports. We learn that most schools are publicly funded and that society support their educational system overall, because they feel proud of it. A career in teaching is highly valued so spots in the faculties of education are in very high demand. There were things that I particularly liked about the way they organize schools and some others that surprised me: 
  • The timetable - a short break period after every class in elementary schools.
  • Resources, books and meals are included in schooling paid through taxes.
  • Students are taught about responsibility since they are very young. They even walk to school at a very early age. Yes, it is a safe country.
  • Their success lie in the fact that schools are not detached from society but is one of its foundations.

The nice surprise? Naturally, the Spanish bilingual programs in Finland. I have never heard that there were Spanish bilingual programs in Finland and that they wereso popular. And the reason to explain their popularity, according to the teacher in the program? Apparently some Spanish soap operas have been very successful in Finland and TV programs are never dubbed.
It is not the first time that I have spoken about education in Finland in this blog but I find their approach to education serious and professional, a matter of state. I still remember, some years ago, when I took part in one E-Twinning project with a school in Finland.The teacher I worked with once mentioned to me: "I am a grandmother already but I still want to explore new things with my students." An incredible declaration of principles. To watch the program, click below and enjoy!