Madrid cuts teaching hours in official language schools: less time, same curriculum

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Starting to study a foreign language at an Official Language School (EOI) in Madrid will be more difficult over the next year. At least, in relation to the hours the student will receive throughout the school year. The Ministry of Education has decided that the lowest level of each language, known as A1, will be taught in 90 hours instead of the 135 in which knowing a language was the first premise. The Community of Madrid does not specify anything about the curriculum, so it is understood that students must acquire the same subjects but in fewer hours and, therefore, with fewer teachers. The scissors reach 36 official schools distributed throughout the region, where approximately 50,000 students study and some 580 teachers teach.

Protests against the decision were “unilaterally taken”, says Carrie Baena, vice president of the Epiom teachers union, who took to the streets yesterday. Notably, in front of the Ministry of Education, where the teachers, representatives of the CC OO, a union also known as concentration, and the students positioned themselves against it.

The surprise came through an email sent to all EOI directors on March 3. The regional government asked the heads of schools to send “an educational proposal”, noting that next year only three hours a week would be taught for students who study German, Danish, Spanish as a foreign language To begin with, Basque, Finnish, French, Greek, Hungarian, English, Italian, Polish, Russian and Swedish. In other words, the hitherto existing limit for centers to teach subjects between 90 and 135 hours per year, depending on the educational plan they consider for each language, disappears. Nothing to reach 135. The minimum 90 also becomes the maximum.

“This means that one teacher will be lost for every 12 groups of A1,” summarizes Baena, who also emphasizes that the student will “see how circumstances reduce his or her right to study a language Goes.”

The Ministry of Education explained to this newspaper that the change is due to the fact that it wants to “integrate the basic level term with the rest of the levels (intermediate and advanced)”. “This has been done to avoid disparity in supply, which is difficult to understand by students accessing these courses for the first time, which had variable duration in the same course, depending on the EOI where they enrolled”, to a spokesperson. justifies.

But teachers’ representatives say this is “absolutely wrong”, as the curriculum, at all levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2), has a range of 90 to 135 hours. is,” and usually they always reach 135″. “In some schools, depending on the language and the number of students enrolled, they can be reduced to 120 or even 100. But the normal thing is to reach 135 hours a year,” insists Bena. “There is only one reading in this: that they want to kill the teachers. There is no other”, he argues.

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The directors responded to the email with another in which they opposed the decision and argued that “from an academic point of view”, the initiative to reduce the hours went against the spirit of the LOE, which in Article 2.2 of its reference to the autonomy of the Centre. , and Article 120, which also emphasizes that the Board of Heads of Departments is in charge of setting guidelines and precepts.

It is of no use. José Manuel Rodríguez Jiménez, general director of secondary education, vocational training and special arrangements, replied again that the EOI should propose options for the organization of the timetable.

According to Bena, the protest against the unilateral decision taken by the administration last August was also fruitless. They then determined – once students had paid 269 euros for each year for their registration – that instead of opting for two calls for the certificate exam, they would have only one. Same money, less opportunity. “It’s always the same,” complains Bena. “Ask about apples and they answer with avocados.”

In November 2020, when students protested, the same avocados received a backlash, as they were merging the levels of minority languages, i.e. third and fourth year students of languages ​​such as Danish, Finnish, Japanese, Russian or Romanian. For example, the same classes, same teachers, same schedules and almost the same curriculum went on to share. And for the same money as before. “A crap”, the teachers then condemned.

Isabel Galvin, CC OO’s spokesperson for education, now in the face of the new controversy, recalls that “the autonomy of the centres, meaning that schools can make decisions on educational programmes, is at the heart of LOMLOE and is one of the Council of Europe’s.” Among the main objectives, as it has been shown to improve educational outcomes and reduce school dropouts. So, Galvin continues, this reduction in hours will only exacerbate school failure, student frustration and dropouts. “Similarly, this will have a very negative impact on the reputation and stability of our language schools, which have trained and certified more than 500,000 students at their language level over the past ten years.”

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