Catalonia became yesterday in the first autonomy to approve an institutional pact to stop school segregation, which is the separation of the students in different educational centers according to your socioeconomic profile. This prevents all students from having the same opportunities. From the next academic year, the fees charged by the concerted school will be revised -to ensure that there is no selection of those with more resources- and the "equitable" distribution of students who enroll after the deadline will be ensured, in order to avoid that are always derived to the same centers. In recent years, different autonomies, governed by PSOE and PP, have admitted the problem of segregation and have put in place measures to stop it although, to date, everything has been small patches.
The Catalan Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó, warned in a harsh report in 2016 that a hundred Catalan schools (4.35% of the existing 2,295, almost double than in 2006) had more than half of foreign students, which makes them schools ghetto. Catalonia is, together with the Balearic Islands, autonomy with a higher percentage of foreign students, 13.2%. That controversy culminated yesterday with the signing of the Pact against School Segregation, which includes 189 measures to reduce rates of school segregation, such as the withdrawal of extra points for chronic digestive diseases, celiac disease or for having relatives (parents, siblings) of the center's students. Food intolerances granted 10 additional points and family ties with the center, another five.
In addition, a follow-up commission will be created to guarantee compliance with the document, which was seconded by Junts per Catalunya, ERC, PSC and Catalunya en Comú -all with the exception of PP, C's, CUP-, almost all City Councils of more than 10,000 inhabitants, unions like CC OO and UGT and entities of the educational community.
Non-university education of general regime, in%
The European Commission, the Committee on the Rights of the Child or the UN have urged Spain in recent years to review and approve policies that curb school segregation. This affects 46.8% of schools in the country-nine out of ten are public, according to the study Magnitude of school segregation by socioeconomic level, published in 2018 by two researchers from the Autonomous University of Madrid. In that report, a great disparity between autonomies is reflected: Balearics or Galicia present a low segregation -between Sweden and Finland, the countries with the lowest rate of the European Union-, while in Madrid it is "very high" -between Hungary and Romania , the countries with the highest rate in the EU-.
It is difficult to identify a single cause of segregation, but the experts consulted agree that the root is in the educational policies designed by the Autonomous Executives. "Although there is evidence of the problems of segregation, because in these centers low educational level, some autonomies do not want to recognize the problem", explains Álvaro Ferrer, co-author of the Study of socioeconomic segregation to inclusive education, of Save the Children.
One of the first autonomies to launch a battery of measures was Balearic Islands in 2015. "We are one of the regions with the highest percentage of foreign students (13.2% versus 2.6% in Galicia) and we realized that the involvement of the Town Councils is necessary ", says Antoni Morante, general director of Planning of the Balearic Government (coalition of the PSOE with the economists of Més). They reached agreements with 11 municipalities, which presented higher levels of segregation, to ensure a "balanced schooling". Specialized commissions -integrated by members of the Administration, teachers and families- analyze the composition of the centers and organize the enrollment of the students so that those with learning needs or with lower socioeconomic profiles are distributed equally among the public and the concerted.
"There is no other choice but to move students, although it does not correspond to the family's choice of school," adds Morante. In addition, they have expanded the schooling zones; They have gone from three to eight, so that neighborhoods with higher incomes are mixed with other workers, to get the mix of students.
FOREIGN STUDENTS BY TYPE OF CENTER
Another focus of the problem is the call live registration: students who join the school outside the regular period (after September). Aragón approved a decree at the end of 2018 so that centers with more than 15% of students "with educational and social needs" can not admit more students with that profile. "The dynamics of the school ghettos is a vicious circle: every time there are more students with low resources in the classrooms, that is judged by the families that choose other schools for their children and leave vacant places that are filled throughout the year with new students with the same profile ", explain from the Government of Aragon. Many of the students who enroll throughout the year are of foreign origin. The late incorporation is due either to their arrival in Spain, or to a change in the neighborhood due to the rise in rents or the precarious and volatile jobs of the parents, according to the results of the investigations of the Jaume Bofill Foundation.
The Basque Country, with 7.5% of foreign students, published in November a report that found that the public network concentrates more to foreign students: 22.8% in Primary and 18% in the THAT, compared to 9.6% and 11.6% at the same levels in the network of concerted schools. To avoid this imbalance, in recent months they have launched a tool to measure the percentage of students with learning needs of each center and, depending on the result, grant more or less resources to schools (teachers or material endowments). According to several researches, the immigrant population or the students of late incorporation are the ones with the greatest learning problems.
The Basque government has followed the example of places like Holland, the country of OECD with more students enrolled in the concerted, 65% of the total, where since 2013 more funding is given to schools that admit students with fewer resources. Another of the measures promoted by the Basque Executive is the opening of information and advice offices on registration in Bilbao, Vitoria and Arrasate. According to the report School choice and equity of the OECD, information is the key to choosing an educational center and families with higher incomes and a higher educational level have more resources to access it. They have more time and a more extensive network of contacts for their advice, according to the document. Families with a lower socioeconomic profile usually go to the public center closest to their home.
In other autonomies like Valencia, have modified the requirements of access to schools, so that the points awarded to those students whose parents had attended the same school have been eliminated. A way to favor the mixture of social classes.