The face-to-face night baccalaureate for adults ceases to exist in the Community of Madrid, according to the new order that regulates this type of education, published in the official bulletin of the region (BOCM) last Monday. Students who enroll for the next academic year may only do so in the blended modality ―with a reduced number of tutorials given in the centers― or remotely. Until now, those over 18 years of age who wanted to study the first and second year of high school at night ―for work or for having dependents during the day, for example― could do so in person at 28 institutes in the region and online at 13. This last format is maintained, but the classes in person, as they have been taught until now, disappear and will be replaced by blended classes.
“It has been decided to replace the night regime, with a rigid structure in the organization of the subjects, by a more flexible format (…) in which the student can enroll in the subjects they want (…), combining collective face-to-face tutorials with a practical nature that guides the student in their learning, with non-face-to-face tutorials, where activities are carried out at a distance”, the order states. This is the new blended modality: group meetings with the teacher, compulsory attendance and from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; and remote tutorials combined with activities posted in a virtual classroom.
For Isabel Galvín, general secretary of the Madrid CCOO Teaching Federation, eliminating face-to-face classes constitutes a “serious violation” of the rights of students and teachers. “You see them coming. They are going to do the same thing with the baccalaureate that they have done with distance Vocational Training: fatten the business of private education ”, she criticizes. And she adds that in the last 12 years, online VET in private centers has gone from being practically non-existent to the majority option. “The first step, which was to reduce the number of students in public centers both at night and remotely, has already been taken. Now the blended-learning regime is regulated, with lower cost and easy transition to the distance modality ”, she predicts.
The regional government states in the order that the objective of this change is “to promote learning throughout life and provide this group with a flexible offer appropriate to their needs.” Diego Redondo, who has been teaching adults for 16 years and runs a center dedicated to it (called CEPA) in the mountains, disagrees. “The capacity for autonomous work of each student is varied. In the distance model, you take a topic that you dedicate 7 hours to in person and compress it into one hour. They are not even called classes (in the blended model), but tutorials ”, complains the professor, who is part of the board of directors of the CEPA Madrid association. Baccalaureate classes for adults are not taught in these centers, although they have been fighting for years for this to change and for the offer to be expanded, especially in rural areas. For now, those over 18 years of age can only take the night baccalaureate in institutes that also offer the ordinary regime.
Less teaching hours
Redondo explains that the online modality is necessary and was created for those students who could not attend classes either in the morning or in the afternoon. But that attendance is also essential for a large number of students ―some 2,500 this last year― who do have 20 hours a week and have decided to dedicate them ―“on most occasions with a lot of effort”― to obtain their baccalaureate degree by going to to a center. “with the model semi in reality, school hours are cut. In secondary education for adults it was a failure, it went from 17 teaching hours to 8 hours. The rest is still a virtual classroom with content, but the teacher does not have extra hours to manage this purely digital content and do exhaustive monitoring ”, he adds.
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Article 6.5 of the order indicates that teachers have three school days to resolve any doubts that students raise through the virtual platform. “There are complex matters that are not understood at first. In mathematics (the subject he teaches for adults) a PDF is useless. If the student has a question that she needs to solve to continue and sends it through the virtual classroom, the teacher can take two days to answer. That in person is solved at the moment ”, comments Redondo.
One of the words that is repeated in several sections of the published text is “self-learning”, so that students assimilate the contents autonomously and the face-to-face or online tutorials serve to resolve specific doubts or expand what they have studied on their own. Many students, says El Redondo, cannot cope with everything and need a tutor to guide them in this learning process: “Physical presence is not just about explaining. A student-teacher-center link is created that favors attendance, reduces absenteeism and improves results”. Galvín agrees: “It does not take into account the particularities of adult students in night classes. Among the students of these teachings, many have failed in the day mode. The face-to-face system is more than 100 years old and has been successful, as demonstrated by the fact that practically all the students graduate”.
According to CC OO, the number of students in evening baccalaureate has been reduced “little by little” since the 2009-2010 academic year, in the midst of the financial crisis, because the Community has been “removing modalities” or “subjects and electives”. 13 years ago there were 5,762 people enrolled and in the 2020-2021 academic year there were 3,148 students, 45.4% less. In addition, Galvín criticizes, the recently published order does not take into account people with difficulties accessing virtual platforms. “Within this group there is a high level of socioeconomic vulnerability, so this type of configuration would go against the very articles of the project, which proclaims equality as the objective of this specific offer of baccalaureate”, he makes ugly.
Other issues that the text does not include -and that worry teachers- is what will happen to the teachers who taught face-to-face teaching. “How many are going to be left over in the institutes when blended attendance is established?” Redondo wonders. “The suppression of the face-to-face modality entails a reduction in teaching staff, especially the staff of public centers, and the council knows it,” says Galvín.
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