Spain is the sixth country that suspended fewer classes due to covid

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A teacher teaches the students. / EP

Its percentage of university graduates exceeds the average of the most advanced countries, but the percentage of young people with Baccalaureate or FP is only half, according to the annual analysis of the OECD education system

Alfonso Torres

Spanish is one of the educational systems in the world that gave the best response and suffered the fewest academic shocks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This is at least indicated by the OECD in its audit of the operation of schools, institutes and universities in the most developed countries of the world, the ‘Panorama of Education 2022’. The 462-page report, which compares 45 countries, reflects in a specific analysis that Spain was the sixth country on the planet that suspended fewer days of school in the two long years of the covid epidemic.

The check-up, like every year, highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the Spanish education system. On the positive side, he points out that it is one of the advanced countries with the most young university graduates and with more students who finish their degree than start; places it as a world reference in schooling from 0 to 3 years; and underlines how graduating from a college dramatically multiplies the chances of getting a job and, moreover, a good job.

Among the most negative, remember that Spain has a very low percentage of graduates in Baccalaureate and Vocational Training, that it allocates less money and resources to education than the average and that it greatly limits direct access to university for Vocational Training graduates. These are some of the main points of the analysis:

Open colleges and institutes

The document indicates that Spain only closed primary and secondary schools for 45 days due to the covid health crisis, in the last stretch of the 2019-20 academic year, coinciding with confinement and lack of vaccines. This without counting, of course, the subsequent occasional suspensions of classes due to outbreaks and quarantines. It is the sixth country in the world that closed the classrooms the least, after Iceland and Sweden, which did not stop classes, and Switzerland, Luxembourg and Norway, which suspended all face-to-face teaching between 30 and 40 days. Latvia is the country that closed the most in Europe, more than 225 days in three courses, including 2022. Neighbors such as Germany, the United Kingdom or Portugal closed between 90 and 100 days distributed between 2020 and 2021. The OECD indicates that Spain “rescheduled” the Baccalaureate final exams, but he did not suspend them nor did he abolish selectivity in any course. Ten countries in 2020 and at least six in 2021 abolished their “national exams” to graduate from Baccalaureate.

Half of young people with a career

It stands out that 49% of Spaniards between the ages of 25 and 34 with a university degree were 49% in 2021, one point more than the average for OECD countries. Of course, the process has slowed down in Spain. A decade ago the advantage was seven points and now it is one. Spanish students who receive scholarships or public aid are 44%, which places them in the average of developed countries; there are more students who attend private schools (five points) than in other states; and they have an aging university teaching staff, with 47% over 50 years of age, seven points higher than the average.

Higher graduation rate

On Spanish campuses, as on those in the rest of the world, the rate of dropouts is very high. However, those who finish the degree they started, even three years after its minimum duration, are 72%, four points more than the OECD average. Those who significantly improve this statistic are women, with at least four points more graduates than men. The average success is also eleven points higher in Spanish private campuses (82%) than in public ones.

More employment and better quality

It concludes that young Spaniards with a university degree have an average employment rate 19 points higher than those who only have ESO or nine points higher than Baccalaureate or FP graduates. The more training, the more work is confirmed, especially in women. Spanish university students have an employment rate 28 points higher than those who only achieved ESO. Analysts regret that only 6% of Spanish higher education graduates are from the technological branch, since 88% work compared to 78% of economic or legal careers, which add up to about 20% of the students. It is also noticeable in the salaries, almost double that of ESO graduates and 32% more than high school graduates or vocational training graduates. The higher degree also served young Spaniards to lose fewer jobs than others with less training during the labor crisis unleashed in 2020 by the covid and to recover, in 2021, a greater part of the lost employment.

Many unqualified guys

If the high percentage of university students is an asset of Spanish youth, the also very high percentage of boys with hardly any academic qualifications is their biggest problem. The very high rates of early school leaving are reflected in the fact that there are up to twice as many Spaniards between the ages of 25 and 34 without a Baccalaureate or Vocational Training degree, practically the minimum that is required today in a job profile. They are 28% in Spain and 14% in the OECD average. The only positive note is that in the last decade the gap has narrowed by two points.

Brake to FP

The analysis points out as a black spot in the Spanish educational system that only 59% of VET graduates have direct access to continue their training at university. It recalls that in twelve developed countries access is possible for 100% of FP graduates and ensures that this obstacle limits the academic progression of young people and reduces the attractiveness of FP. The new Vocational Training Law and the future Law on Universities aim to minimize this brake.

low funding

The OECD reminds Spain that it allocates fewer resources to finance and improve its education system than the average country. In 2019, the last year with comparable data, the states allocated 4.9% of their GDP to education and research and Spain only invested 4.3%. Only one tenth more than twelve years before. It indicates that, in addition, Spain is the seventh country analyzed with the lowest percentage of its public spending devoted to education. 8.6% compared to 10.6% on average, two points less. As a result, each student spends about $1,000 less per year, with the largest gap in college, where the gap was nearly $3,000 per student per year. There is also a difference in the Spanish component. The insufficiency of public spending means that the percentage of private spending is two points higher in pre-university education and three points more on campus than in the country average.

Powerful Early Childhood Education

In Spain, 41% of children between 0 and 3 years of age are enrolled in school, which is 14 points higher than the average low of the OECD, which is 27%. However, the high percentage masks abysmal differences between autonomies and between the different levels of family income, with up to half of those enrolled in the poorest households. In the second cycle of Infant, from 3 to 5 years old, schooling in Spain is not compulsory, but it can be considered universal. 97% of children are enrolled compared to 83% of the OECD average, also 14 points higher.

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