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Education in Spain in the face of COVID-19: aspects to improve according to the OECD

marzo 31, 2021
09092020 gastoeducacion Education in Spain in the face of COVID-19: aspects to improve according to the OECD

Allocating more public funds to education, lowering classroom ratios and strengthening VET are some recommendations that the agency considers necessary to improve the Spanish educational system

Spain is one of the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that has closed education and training centers for longer due to the pandemic, which can take its toll on a social and economic level in the future. This is what the report indicates Education at a Glance. OECD Indicators 2020, which this year includes an additional publication on the impact of COVID-19 on education systems.

The OECD has recalled that the closings of Spanish schools and universities began in some regions on March 11 and lasted until the 16th of that month throughout the country due to the coronavirus. Although some centers partially reopened on June 2, at the end of that month the country registered almost 16 weeks of classroom inactivity, while the average of the 46 countries analyzed in the report was 14.

Every week that the Spanish centers have been closed supposes the loss of 23 hours per week of teaching in Primary and 30 in Secondary, according to the agency. In days of schooling lost, Spain registers 31.5 in all educational stages, compared to 17.4 in Lithuania, for example. Although face-to-face education was replaced by online education, not all students were able to access it, thus increasing existing educational inequalities.

The OECD, based on evidence from a study by US economists, notes in its report that “loss of learning will lead to loss of skills, and the skills that people have are related to their productivity, so the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the countries could be 1.5% less on average during the rest of the century“. To prevent this from happening, it is essential strengthen the education system, “to recover from this crisis and provide young people with the skills and competencies they need to be successful”, said the Secretary General of the OECD, Ángel Gurría, at the presentation of the report in Paris.

Thus, the study highlights some aspects in which the Spanish education system has been most affected by COVID-19 and in which it must improve. Among them, the following stand out, some more related to the educational crisis generated by the pandemic and others to the education system in general.

1. Allocate more public funds to education

The report recognizes that there is uncertainty about the impact that the pandemic may have on education spending, but recommends Spain allocate more resources to the education systemSince it needs it to function better and, at the moment, most of the government investment is taking place in the economy and in the health sector.

In fact, the country has invested less in education compared to the OECD average in 2017: the country spent 4.3% of its GDP on primary to higher education centers, which is equivalent to 0.6 percentage points less than the rest of the countries analyzed in the study.

education spending

2. Lower ratios in schools, especially in Secondary

The return to school will be safe depending on the sanitary measures adopted, especially the ability to maintain a distance of 1-2 meters between students and staff, according to the OECD. This implies reduce class ratios. However, this measure has not been able to be applied in most cases in Spain, according to teacher unions such as Comisiones Obreras and the Unión General de Trabajadores.

For countries with smaller classes (less than 20 boys and girls per classroom), it is easier to comply with the distancing, according to the report, but this is not the case in Spain. The Average class size in Primary is 22 students in public institutions, compared to 21 in the OECD and 20 in the EU, Meanwhile in Secondary there are 25 students, compared to the 23 registered on average in the rest of the countries analyzed in the study and the 21 in the EU.

However, the report warns that “the need to reduce class sizes depends on factors such as physical space, availability of classrooms and staff, and personal decisions of students and teachers about whether to return to school. “

OECD Recommendations for Back to School

In the additional publication to the report Education at a Glance 2020, entitled The impact of COVID-19 on Education. Insights from Education at a Glance 2020, its author, the body’s director of education Andreas Schleicher, proposes some measures for a safe return to school, Among which are:

  • Assess the occupational risks of teachers
  • Develop clear protocols for social distance and health security
  • Ensure constant and adequate training for teachers
  • Perform PCR on teachers before the start of classes to ensure that there are no infections from the beginning

3. Improve the digital training of teachers

A pending task for teachers in the Spanish educational system is improve your digital training, according to the OECD.

In general, since before the pandemic, teachers in all the countries analyzed have recognized the need to improve their digital skills: 60% received training on ICT applied to education and learning. 18% expressed that they lacked training in this area.

4. Renew the teaching staff at all levels

In many OECD countries, a a large part of teachers will reach retirement age in the next decade, while the school-age population is expected to increase in some countries in this period. This situation will put pressure on governments to hire and train new teachers.

In Spain, 8% of primary school teachers are young teachers (under 30 years old), figure below the OECD average (12%). Likewise, in the countries that make up the organization, the proportion of young teachers decreases at other levels of education: 10% in Secondary and 8% in Baccalaureate and FP.

teacher age

In Spain, the percentage of teachers over 50 years of age (33.2%) in Primary is higher than in the average for OECD countries (33.2%). Image: OECD – Education at a glance 2020.

5. Reduce the deficit of Baccalaureate and FP graduates

Spain continues to have a deficit of young people with Baccalaureate or equivalent studies, such as Vocational Training: the 30.3% of the population between 25 and 34 years old have a high school degree and do not continue post-compulsory studies, while in the OECD this percentage is only 15.5% and in the European Union it is 13.2%.

To encourage young people to continue studying, the OECD urges Spain to make efforts to make the Baccalaureate and VET more attractive for young people. In this regard, the report indicates that 22.7% of the Spanish adult population has graduated from these studies, while the percentage is 42.3% in the average for OECD countries and 44.8% in the EU.

Increasing the number of FP and Baccalaureate graduates is important because these studies can increase the employability of young people. For example, in 2019, before the start of the pandemic, 23% of people between 25 and 24 years old with a high school degree were unemployed compared to 12% who had a Baccalaureate or FP education.

In addition, Investing in and promoting VET more can help reduce the percentage of young people who neither study nor work, which is one of the highest among the OECD countries. The data speak for themselves: in Spain, 18.3% of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 neither study nor work, compared to 13% in the rest of the OECD countries.

6. Reinforce work-based learning

The pandemic has affected both the education and employment of young people. To alleviate the situation, the OECD urges governments to reinforce work-based learning and linkages with the private sector in post-compulsory studies, especially Vocational Training.

And it is that in almost half of the OECD countries the employment rate for women 25-34 year olds who completed a mandatory professional practice or stay in a company as part of your VET studies is higher than that of people who did not get any work experience.

“This is more evident in Spain, where the employment rate of people who did compulsory professional internships in a company is 28 percentage points higher than that of those who have not had any work experience while studying“says the report.

7. Reinvent and digitize educational, university and training centers

The The COVID-19 crisis has reduced the enrollment of international students in universities and training centers in OECD countries, including Spain, which may affect the educational services of these entities and the financial support they provide to national students, as well as research and development activities, according to the report.

For this reason, the body urges university and training institutions to reinvent their learning environments to expand the digitization of their academic offerings and that online education “complements, but does not replace, relationships between students themselves and between students and teachers.”

Did you know…?

  • The The enrollment rate in Spain for children in the first cycle of Infant (0 to 3 years) has increased by more than 10 points in the last decade, reaching 38.2% in 2019.
  • In Spain, more than 96% of boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 5 are in schoolTherefore, it has one of the highest school enrollment rates in Europe in 3 and 4 years.
  • The number of expected teaching hours in public institutions in Spain is 792 in Primary, less than the average for OECD countries (805), but more than those registered on average by the EU member states (769). In Secondary, the number of teaching hours in Spain is 1,054 compared to 922 in the OECD countries and 892 in the EU.
  • Unemployment rates in Spain They are higher than the average for OECD and EU countries23. A higher educational level supposes a decrease in the unemployment rate.

Data sheet

In your annual report Education at a Glance, the OECD presents statistics and indicators of the educational systems of the 37 countries that make up the organization, as well as Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, the Russian Federation, India, Indonesia, and South Africa.

Thus, the study analyzes the evolution of education in each country, its financing and the impact of training on the labor market and the economy. In this edition, the publication analyzes the …