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The government of Valencia announced this week that it will eliminate 75% of portacabin schools in the region “before the end of the current term”.

A statement says that during the current academic year, 329 temporary classrooms will be removed with the construction of five new schools and, before the end of the administrative term they will complete 14 other colleges and institutes that will eliminate another 300 more.

The statement also says that in total there are 24,756 public classrooms in public schools in the region, of which only 1.2% will be housed in temporary units, “according to the commitment of the Council under the Plan to eliminate portable classrooms”.

Although nobody would complain about a commitment to eliminate portacabin classrooms, not least the people of Orihuela, some of whom have spent their entire school lives being taught in inferior buildings, but the reduction in these units is seemingly not simply based on replacing purpose built and new facilities with the old.

For the third consecutive year the PP run Valencia Government plans to completely eliminate up to nine classrooms across Orihuela for the 2014 academic year. The councillor for education in municipality of Orihuela, Rosa Martínez of the PSOE, made the announcement around Christmas time saying that Andrés Manjón school will lose a primary and nursery class, La Aparecida will lose two primary classes, whereas the schools of Antonio Sequeros, Villar Palasí, colegio de Desamparados, La Campaneta and San Bartolomé will lose one each.

This figure must also be added to the thirteen classes already removed in the 2011 academic year, plus the six in this, which collectively has been described as an “attack” against public education by Martínez, which has also seen 36 teachers suffer the loss of employment.

It is also believed that the reduction in class numbers will have serious repercussions on those wishing to send their children to schools in the municipality, with Martínez predicting that some parents will be forced to look towards private schools in the future.

Although the move is beyond the control of the local government team, a meeting has been set up by the Municipal School Board, to make urgent plans to try to prevent this extra reduction, which they will then attempt to convince the regional body to reduce the persistent hatchet on public education in Orihuela.

As for the announcement that five new schools will open this year, the government say that it will mean some 3,000 students leaving prefabricated classrooms and moving to brick building, “so that by the end of the year we will have eliminated 35% of the existing facilities”, whilst pointing out that CEIP Benadresa in Castellón, San Francisco de Borja in Gandía, IES nº 3 in Denia, CEIP Acequión in Torrevieja and CEIP nº 10 de Torrent “have already been completed”.

Whilst stating that in July 2011, the region had 929 temporary classrooms and in the last two years, “thanks to the construction of these facilities, 329 have been removed”, not forgetting that we must also add in the 28 classes in Orihuela alone have been simply eliminated all together, plus others in different areas of the region, the government are still committed to the removal 300 other prefabricated classrooms “through the construction of 14 new schools throughout the country before the end of the legislature”, four of which are in the Alicante province, 3 in Castellón and the rest in Valencia.

But, whilst the balance of promoting the closure of portacabins is weighed up against the removal of classes altogether, the central government are also tightening the belts of school age parents again this year, with the announcement of a huge reduction in subsidy towards textbooks and teaching materials.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport has published in the Official State Gazette the figure for of 18.5 million euro to be distributed between the regions in order to finance textbooks and teaching materials in primary and secondary education. Last year, the figure was 30.7 million euro, meaning a reduction of 40%.

The distribution of credit is the result of the agreement of the Council of Ministers made in November, establishing distribution criteria approved by the Education Conference, which has been published and subsequently come into force this week.

However, in a statement issued on behalf of the department run by José Ignacio Wert, also responsible for the education reform act LOMCE, which came into force last week, the program aims at establishing cooperation mechanisms between the government and the autonomous communities in order to “work with families” in funding the purchase of books and school supplies for students enrolled in the compulsory levels of education in public schools.

The criterion for distribution amongst the regions is the result of the product of two variables: the rate of poverty risk for each autonomous community in 2011, published by the National Institute of Statistics, and the number of students enrolled in compulsory education in that community.

Valencia is quite near the top of the list of budget allocations and will receive 1.7 million euro, just marginally behind Madrid who will get 1.8 million. Neighbouring Murcia will get just 832,947 euro share, a considerable way behind the Andalucía where 5.5 million euro will be given.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/42187/

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