Vicent Marzà (Castelló de La Plana, 36 years old) took over the Ministry of Education, Research, Culture and Sport in 2015 as a rising figure of Compromís and ends the legislature as one of its leaders. Marzà belongs to the Bloc, the nationalist paw of the coalition of lefts that also form Initiative and Els Verds. His management has been one of the most criticized by the right your language policy and his vision of the role that the private school.
Question. He came to the Ministry of Education promising to re-launch the public school after several years of cutting. Do you think he has achieved it?
Answer. I make a positive balance, without being triumphant, because in four years you can not reverse 20 policies of the right, which destroyed the public service. We are investing 1,300 euros more per student per year. We have sought to dignify public school and reduce inequality. There are 40,000 children with a dining scholarship that there was not. A free book bank that there was not. We have 6,000 more teachers. And the ratios are lower.
P. He announced the end of the barracks this term, but 13,800 students are still in them. Was it a naive promise?
R. I always said that I would end the centers entirely in barracks, not with the whole. And we have been doing that. In those centers entirely in barracks there were 8,000 children. Now 4,000 are in new schools, and the rest will go to centers whose works are underway or awarded. We have advanced a lot, but it is true that the procedures in an Administration that had no muscle after the privatizations and cuts, have lengthened a lot. Even so we have done 600 actions in infrastructures, we have removed fiber cement. We have finished 23 centers and have a dozen under construction.
P. The counseling has suffered several setbacks of the Superior Court of Justice of the Valencian Community. To what do you attribute it?
R. We are paying more in judicial decisions for decisions of the PP era than those that concern the current government. But it is true that there have been decisions [judiciales contrarias] because we have not come to make up the system, but to transform it. And certain powers do not respond to what is for us the common good. For example, the Superior Court of Justice said that we could not lower the ratios because it was a state competence, when in Galicia and other territories they do.
P. Do you think that the judges have exceeded in questioning the educational regulations?
R. The one who denounces is not the court; they are always the same organizations linked to the right. But it is true that we are in a cycle change. For many years private business has been privileged and this government has come to put the common good above, for example in concerts.
P. Considers that concerted education has the function of filling gaps in the public …
R. Of course, it complements the offer where the public does not arrive.
P. … but the judges do not see it that way.
R. The Superior Court of Justice questions, but then the Supreme Court is giving us the reason.
P. On the failures of educational concerts the Supreme has pronounced itself?
R. They are studying it, but I think it is a matter of concept. Concerts are necessary because there is not enough public school. If there is, it does not make sense for us to double the offer with public money.
P. The court considers that the concerted is not only complementary to the public, but that the concerts are part of the right of parents to choose the education of their children.
R. That does not make sense from any point of view. Neither pedagogical, nor social, nor democratic. On the one hand, the Administration has to plan the offer. And on the other, it is now when families can choose the centers. Before, it was the centers that chose the families, for example, putting discretionary points on the relatives of former students, so that certain families would not enter. That is over.
P. Was it wrong to condition, in your first decree of plurilingualism, the increase of hours in English to the increase of hours in Valencian?
R. I do not think so. That's what the multilingual units of the universities told us that had to be done. The previous model has failed. Only 6% of children know English when they leave school, only 30% know Valencian, and 100% know Spanish. We want 100% to know Spanish, and better than now, that 100% know Valencian, and that 100% have effective notions of English. And that is what we proposed, without imposing anything, because it is the school councils that vote for the proportion of languages.
P. Why then the law that replaced the decree eliminated that link between more hours of English and more of Valencian?
R. Because there was a judicial pronouncement [contra el decreto] who said it could not be. We do not share it, but we comply with the resolutions.
What has been noticed in the classrooms the arrival of a progressive government to the Valencian Government after 20 years of Popular Party Executives? The socialist Miguel Soler, Regional Secretary of Education, highlights what he considers three major transformations. The new scholarship and study aid policy, "which seeks to fulfill our principle that no one stops studying for economic reasons". The promotion of free schooling from zero to three years. And the implementation of a new system of school buildings with which, thanks to the collaboration with the municipalities, "is going to do in four years what the Ministry would have cost 30".
The number of interventions in approved centers reaches 501 – there are another 207 in process-. And of these, 97 "are new centers, comprehensive renovations or very significant extensions," says Soler.
"The aid policy has been translated into Xarxa Llibres, with which almost half a million students, all who have wanted, do not pay even one euro for their books. Or in the lunch scholarships, whose budget has gone from 47 to 70 million and the number of students who have them, from 87,000 to 127,000. In addition, the scholarship before covered eight months of dining a year and now 10, because June and September have also been incorporated, "he says.
The Generalitat has launched to increase schooling in the first phase of the Infant phase, from zero to three years, following the conclusions of studies that emphasize its importance in subsequent school success, especially among the most disadvantaged students. Education has opened 140 two-year classrooms – the course of this phase that Soler considers crucial for later performance – in public schools. It has made the same course free in the network of 248 municipal nursery schools. And it has extended the child voucher – an aid to pay the tuition of the children in private nurseries -, which has happened, in the course of two years, of being an aid of 60 euros equal for all to another one of 80 to 140 euros that varies depending on the family income. Households with incomes above € 72,460 per year are excluded.
For the two-year course there are now 14,000 free places. And, in a context of general decline in enrollment from 0 to 3 years in the whole of Spain since 2015, due mainly to the decline in birth rates, in the Valencian Community there are 6,627 more students -3,953 in public centers and 2,674 in private – And this despite the fact that the number of children in this age group has decreased in the Valencian Community from a total of 136,102 in 2015 to 121,315.