The kindergarten and primary stage loses around 20,400 students

The persistent demographic decline in Catalonia is bleeding the classrooms year after year.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
04 September 2023 Monday 11:14
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The kindergarten and primary stage loses around 20,400 students

The persistent demographic decline in Catalonia is bleeding the classrooms year after year. From full classes where it was necessary to set up barracks to give space to all the students, it has gone in a few years to schools with few children. Fewer students enter the system and more leave (professional training is now saturated). It has gone from promoting more than 80,000 children in these stages to less than 60,000 in ten years.

In the 6th grade, the last year of the stage, there were in June of last year about 81,570 students, who nine years ago started I3 (formerly P3) with roughly the same magnitude (about 3,500 less because some families did not they send their children to school up to 1st grade). The forecast is that tomorrow, Wednesday, 57,923 children will start the first year of the second cycle of kindergarten.

Only the 4th grade of ESO with full classrooms remains in compulsory education. From here, it goes down year after year. The most significant damage from this process, which indicates a lack of social vitality, occurs in the infant and primary school stages. This year children born during the pandemic enter the education system (I3) and there are almost 1,800 fewer than the previous year. We were already coming from reductions. Those taking I4 this September are 4,000 fewer than those who took the same course the previous year and who are now at I5. This course has, in turn, 4,600 less than the I5 of 2022-2023. In total, the kindergarten stage loses a cumulative 10,490 students in three years.

In primary school it is the same. Each year loses compared to the previous year a calculated indent of almost 10,000 fewer students.

The sum amounts to 20,416 fewer students in total. Without minimizing the importance of the demographic decline, the Minister of Education, Anna Simó, assured that these figures result in a greater educational quality because they are accompanied by the largest staff of teachers that the department has had so far. The 3,500 teachers who entered last January due to the reduction of the school day, now include 1,190 endowments (190 teachers and 1,000 teachers).

"In 2010 there were 65,054 with many more students and in 2023 there will be 81,355. The biggest cut reversed is that of teachers at the centre, which is key to educational quality", he said in relation to tomorrow's strike, the start of school, called by three unions.

Simó presented the data on the 2023-2024 school year and his action policy, in continuity with what has been done so far (and postponing the explanation of topics such as FP, the inclusive school or the measures on academic improvement on which educational centers will not have orientations at the beginning of the year).

Simó explained that, instead of closing school groups due to the decline in the birth rate, the number of students per class is being reduced in all public schools where this can be done. It started last year with I3 and this is maintained at I4. 86% of I3 public classrooms and 70% of I4 will have 20 students or less. The average public school ratio is 18 students per teacher (rural and urban schools are included).

He also expressed satisfaction with the demand for enrollment of 2-year-old children (I2) in public and private schools, which the Government made free for families. "On the register, the birth rate has decreased by 2.1% of 0-3 years, but the schooling rate has increased by 3.1%", he pointed out.

As a result of the demographic decline, four chartered centers have given up and gone to the public system with a total of 1,700 places (Escola Joviat, Sant Felip Neri, Mare de Déu de la Soledat, Center Cent Fonts-Sant Josep). On the other hand, nine more educational centers have been launched: two high schools, two schools and five high schools.