The government of the Generalitat has just submitted a new bill to the Catalan Parliament: the LEC or Catalan Education Law. This is a major move entailing far-reaching consequences. Therefore, USTEC·STEs, ASPEPC-SPS and CGT have decided, as trades unions, to address workers and the general public in order to provide detailed information on the kind of measures this bill contemplates and to jointly evaluate the likely impact of its implementation.
We believe that this bill will not solve any of the problems currently facing public education in Catalonia. Rather to the contrary, it makes big strides towards privatisation, handing over state schools to private enterprise. This is why we are inviting you to make your disagreement public and to sign the following manifesto, be it as an organisation or as individuals.
The Bill on Catalan Education (LEC) breaks new ground in a fresh attempt to advance the cause of privatising entire sectors of public education, such as nursery school between ages 0 and 3, vocational training, evening secondary school, further education, educational centres located in disadvantaged areas and other sectors like educational services or after-school activities.
Moreover, passing this bill would be tantamount to underpinning or even enlarging the amount of public funds currently transferred to the employers associations that control subsidised private education. In most cases, these are religious institutions. The bill effectively props up the conditions that make it possible for these employers to continue their practice of considering for registration children chosen according to criteria based on family income, social status, and cultural origin.
The bill gives precedence to the educational programmes devised by the private sector, with state schools playing a mere subsidiary role. At the same time, it strengthens the ideological tenets of the private schools mentioned above. In short, it consolidates the power of employers associations, worsens the division of labour resulting from an early choice of school type, and strengthens the role played by confessional schools.
This bill also foresees local authorities basically taking over public education altogether. This goal is achieved by setting up public-private partnerships and/or creating new schools at local level. This will entail breaking up and disrupting the entire network of public education in Catalonia, which can amount to sentencing it to a protracted process of step-by-step privatisation, as well as leading to organisational disarray when it comes to implementing educational, curricular and language policies at national level.
Likewise, the bill confers an eminently commercial and entrepreneurial character on state schools. It expects them to be able to supplement public funding by procuring their own economic resources, through donations or the sale of merchandise, right down to the possibility of incurring financial debt. This practice will deepen differences among schools according to their respective location and social environment.
In this sense, the kind of structure the bill puts forward as a model for the purpose of administering state schools is top-down, hierarchical and authoritarian. It runs entirely counter to democratic decision-making. It will be detrimental to the role horizontal structures made up of both teachers and families have played in running schools (full staff assemblies and school councils), degrading them to mere props. At the same time, it will help deregulate current working conditions for teachers, increasing job insecurity in a number of sectors, and it will further individualise industrial relations.
Not only is the amount of public funds earmarked for investment in the educational sector as a whole utterly inadequate, but the bill also fails to address investment in public education as a priority. This failure will worsen the current problems with overcrowded classrooms, lack of teachers qualified to tackle growing cultural diversity, along with the lack of proper facilities most state schools are now faced with.
In a nutshell, all measures envisaged by this bill point towards commercialising education in our country, giving precedence to a set of conditions that have already fostered inequality among schools and among pupils too. This bill boils down to an all-out attack on public education, which is the one and only institution that can guarantee equal opportunities and the right to public, secular and first-rate education for all, regardless of social status, income or cultural origin.
WE DEMAND THE WITHDRAWAL OF THIS BILL!