The new educational law, the Celaá law , approved on Wednesday in the Senate , has deactivated the changes in the educational system introduced by the previous norm, of the PP (2013), which were more criticized in their day by much of the community itself , such as the early separation of students in different itineraries, the advantages to the concerted school at the expense of the public or the reinforcement of the Religion subject.
The law has also advanced more than the previous educational norm elaborated by the socialists (the LOE, in 2006) in the distribution of disadvantaged students between the public and the concerted and in the reduction of repetitions, and has laid the foundations to design some less content saturated subjects that emphasize essential learning.
The law has not addressed, on the other hand, other important issues that experts and even institutions such as the State School Council have put on the table in recent times.
Such as the suppression of the current title of Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO), the introduction of a third training path after secondary school (which would be added to that of the Baccalaureate and Vocational Training), and the extension to 18 years of compulsory education .
30 years ago, when the PSOE approved the Law for the General Organization of the Educational System (Logse), only 51% of 16-year-olds had a training equivalent to what is now supposed to have completed ESO – at that time, saving distances It meant having finished second in BUP or first grade Vocational Training.
In the following decade a great advance took place and this percentage grew to 75% of the school population. Since 2000, however, with modest back and forth variations, the proportion of graduates has remained stagnant. Or put another way: for 20 years there has been 25% of students who have not been able to graduate from ESO.
The serious thing is not so much that they do not obtain the title, which on the other hand grants by itself an almost null professional qualification, as affirmed by the president of the association of directors of public institutes Fedadi, Raimundo de los Reyes , and once again emphasized a few weeks ago the Survey of educational-training transition and labor insertion of the INE .
Rather, not having it prevents young people from continuing to train, as it is the condition to be able to access the two training paths that open at the end of compulsory secondary school: Baccalaureate and intermediate-level FP. “The title”, summarizes Enrique Roca, president of the State School Council, who has been in favor of its suppression , “acts as a barrier.”
The government advisory body chaired by Roca this year published a report comparing the situation in Spain with that of seven European countries, the United States and Canada.
The conclusion is that in none of them there is anything similar to the ESO title, but that upon reaching the end of secondary school all students receive a certificate with their qualifications and an orientation on the educational path that, in the opinion of the teaching team of the center, they should follow next.
The new law has not removed the title of the ESO. But it has introduced such a certificate of qualifications, which will be given to those who fail to graduate. And in which they will appear “the number of years studied and the level of acquisition of competences”. The document will not be used, however, to continue studies in post-compulsory secondary school.
Socialist sources who have participated in the drafting of the law in Congress admit that it would be desirable to remove the title. But they consider that this process requires maturation.
In other words: enough fronts had to be faced by the new law to add another that, as was seen in the reaction to the report approved by the State School Council, generates rejection in certain educational sectors of conservative orientation. The mention of the qualifications certificate that the law makes is in any case, add the same sources, a first step in that direction.
According to Roca’s approach, removing the title of the ESO should not be an isolated measure, but taken jointly with others. Such as the strong reduction in repetitions (an area in which the new law advances).
And the creation of another training option, in addition to Baccalaureate and FP, at the end of compulsory secondary school, with an even more labor profile, as exists in the countries analyzed in the report of the State School Council.
An idea that is more concrete by Miguel Soler, Regional Secretary of Education of the Valencian Government. Soler argues that at the end of high school students receive what he calls a “schooling certificate” and an orientation report that, in addition to Baccalaureate or FP, can advise them a third way “that combines training and employment until the young person achieves a qualification equivalent to a medium-level Vocational Training ”.
Soler believes that this would require a change in labor regulations to establish that if a company wants to hire a young person who lacks a qualification equivalent to intermediate vocational training, “it must do so through a training and apprenticeship contract until the young person obtain this qualification ”.
It would also require, he adds, an increase in the supply of Vocational Training such as that already envisaged by the Government, which in the summer announced that it wants to create 200,000 new places in four years.
Eliminating the ESO title, expanding the training pathways after secondary school and extending compulsory education to 18 years of age are three debates that revolve around the same question
How to reduce the level of early school leaving – young people from 18 to 24 years that have a maximum of ESO and do not follow any type of studies or training that allows them to raise their qualifications — which in Spain reaches 17%, 10 points more than the EU average.
“We are clear that the extension of compulsory education until 18 is something that, at least, should be studied,” says Raimundo de los Reyes, president Fedadi. The measure, remember, has been implemented in nearby countries, such as Portugal, and in Spain it was already raised more than a decade ago by Ángel Gabilondo when he was minister.
“It seems a contradiction that before the age of 18 the title that students obtain, in the best of cases, is that of ESO, which does not qualify for anything. If more is needed to have a job qualification, let’s be consistent and extend the mandatory age ”.
Miguel Soler believes, on the other hand, that the measure would have “more drawbacks than advantages”, especially if what is extended to 18 is the current ESO which, coincides with De los Reyes, does not provide professional qualification.
In that case, he adds, students who now want to leave their studies at 16 “should be retained for two more years without offering them an alternative according to their interests.” Soler considers it better to universalize the offer (there are places for everyone), and open a third option at the end of high school that combines training and employment.