The Minister of Education, Manuela Armas, presented yesterday a list of all the authorized public and private centers that exist in the Archipelago today. This list includes detailed information on the educational offer of these spaces, the services they provide and contact information, as well as their geographical distribution. This information can already be consulted through the website of the Ministry. It is therefore the first step in the strategic plan with which the Government of the Canary Islands intends to promote early schooling of island minors and thus guarantee “equity, inclusion, sustainability, quality and equality in teaching and learning services and processes”, Armas explained.
In the absence of outlining the last details of this program, the plan seeks to promote support for families and promote their participation; improve the professional qualification of teaching staff; promote coordination between different public administrations and between public and private children’s centers; and advance digital transformation. The objective of the Ministry is “to put Early Childhood Education in its rightful place” and for this it will be considered as one more educational stage, leaving behind its merely assistance character.
The drafting and implementation of this plan also responds to the educational recommendations made by the European Union and will comply with the provisions of the Canary Islands Law on Education and the new Spanish educational law, the Lomloe. In addition, the increase in the offer of places for this level of education is one of the points of the Agreement for a Government of Progress and Change of this legislature and is part of the actions provided for in the Canary Islands Strategy for Children, Adolescents and Family ( 2019/2023) and the Plan for the Social and Economic Reactivation of the Canary Islands.
Currently there are 31 public children’s centers in the process of authorization in the Archipelago, which would be added to the 240 that have their doors already open in the Islands, 75 of them public and 165 private. The centers that are already in operation offer 13,228 places – 5,105 in public education and 8,123 private – and they are also joined by another 13 schools that depend on the Ministry of Social Rights, Equality, Diversity and Youth.
By islands, Tenerife is the one with the most places, with a total of 6,661, followed by Gran Canaria, with 5,011, La Palma with 608, Fuerteventura with 451, Lanzarote with 387 and La Gomera, with 110. El Hierro is the only one territory that does not currently have any license plates. Despite these data, the schooling rate varies and La Palma is the territory with the highest percentage, with 38.48%. They are followed by Tenerife, with 33.44%, Gran Canaria with 30.44%, La Gomera with 29.57%, Fuerteventura with 14.12% and Lanzarote with 9.69%. For all this, the Minister of Education advanced yesterday that the increase in the number of places will be carried out over the next two years depending on the demand of each place, according to the population of less than three years that exists in each municipality, the disposition of ground or the existence of spaces to house them.
In this sense, Manuela Armas announced that the Ministry will study taking charge of Infant and Primary Education centers that are in disuse to convert them into infant centers. In all this work, the counselor stressed the importance of having the collaboration of the rest of the Canary Islands public administrations and, above all, of the Canary Federation of Municipalities (Fecam).
The Strategic Plan for the first cycle of Early Childhood Education seeks to promote progressive implementation in the 0 to 3 year period. However, it is an objective in which the Government of the Canary Islands has already been working since the 2018/2019 academic year, when the call for three lines of subsidies was launched to cover the expenses assumed by the families of the students of authorized children’s centers . The grants also contribute to the maintenance of municipal and private schools. Following this path, the Canary Islands Government will invest up to 9.1 million euros in promoting early schooling during 2021 through these lines of aid. This is the same amount that it allocated to this same task in last year’s budget.
“Attending this educational stage is one of the most important social investments that we can make”, declared the counselor Manuela Armas, who indicated yesterday that the regional Executive will try to work “under an integrative and multidisciplinary approach” to guarantee this right to the development of the minors to the maximum of their possibilities. Thus, the Ministry of Education defends this ambitious plan as “a measure of equity for vulnerable students”, as well as an “instrument to transform them, through knowledge, into agents of change”.