April 20, 2024

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The Minister of Education, Anna Simó, and the President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, upon their arrival at the Parliamentary plenary session on education.
The Minister of Education, Anna Simó, and the President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, upon their arrival at the Parliamentary plenary session on education.Quique Garcia (EFE)

The Catalan educational system has serious problems to solve. The solutions are complex, there are no magic recipes. The parties with representation in the Parliament -especially those that have the possibility of governing- are aware that they will not achieve it separately -and the current situation demonstrates this-, so they admit that they must work together, seek long-term solutions and shield the system from changes in political color. Hence, ERC, Junts and PSC have arrived this Tuesday at the monographic plenary session on education, putting on the table the need for a broad “educational pact”, a proposal to which they could join, in some aspects, common and the CUP.

The debate in the Chamber has served to list the problems that the system drags: beginning with the poor results in reading comprehension or in areas such as Mathematics; following through school segregation; school dropout (17%); the large volume of students with special needs; the lack of teachers and including even mental health problems derived from the pandemic. The parties have agreed on the diagnosis, which is why the new Minister of Education, Anna Simó (ERC), has reached out and assured that she has already met with the different formations. She wants to do it periodically, she added, to find “common ground” to work on.

Precisely, the message of the need for dialogue and collaboration has been another of the mantras of the plenary session, which was to be held two weeks ago, but which was postponed after the dismissal of the councilor Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, just the day before the day of the debate . The change of person in charge translates into a change of mood, from Cambray’s messianic attitude – “I have come to transform the system” – to Simó’s conciliatory attitude. “We must promote dialogue that adds up because absurd confrontations are not doing well for education,” Simó summed up, thus taking the gauntlet of an opposition that had been complaining about the former counselor’s attitude for months.

The tension with the unions and with the teaching staff is precisely the first front that the new Republican counselor has to face. Simó has announced that she already has an appointment with the different union organizations, starting this Friday with Ustec, the majority, and that as a gesture the meeting will be held at her headquarters, and not at the Department, as usual. Simó has also had conciliatory words towards the directors -with whom he met this Monday- and the families and has arrived at the session with an important announcement from the Consell Executiu: the incorporation of 1,528 endowments, which include both teachers and staff administration and services.

Own President Pere Aragonès has intervened before Simó in plenary to give packaging to the debate and give relevance to a very important area for ERC -education-, since teachers are one of its most important voting niches, and that in recent months They have not shown their agreement with the policies of the Government. Aragonès has made it clear that the first priority is “to strengthen trust with all members of the educational community, from teachers to families.” He has not hidden the fact that he entrusted Simó “to give a new impetus to educational policies”, but also “to take care of the educational community”. “That means listening to everyone, strengthening trust and redoing complicities”, Aragonès has intervened.

During the plenary session, promises were also heard about aspects that teachers have been warning about for months, such as excessive bureaucracy, the lack of social recognition of teachers or mental health problems among students. “Schools do not have the solution to all problems, but they do not have to receive all the blows from things that do not work in society either,” summarized the President.

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One of the tests of this new pactist spirit of all the formations will come this Thursday, with the voting of the resolution proposals presented by all the parties. For now, the plenary session has managed to stage a turning point in relations with parties and unions, so that quarrels do not pose an obstacle to improving the educational system.

The language remains in focus

The situation of Catalan at school has once again been one of the focuses of the debate. The parties opposed to the linguistic immersion system, such as PP and Ciudadanos, have once again called for a greater presence of Spanish in the classroom, while Simó has denounced a “regression of linguistic rights in the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands, as a result of the pacts between PP and Vox. “They tell us that Catalonia will be next. Let’s get ready to receive an offensive ”, has launched the counselor.

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