Feijóo announces the free education of up to three years in Galicia from the next academic year

All nursery schools (from zero to three years) in Galicia, public and private, will be free next year for both first-born and second and successive siblings. It was announced this Wednesday by the president of the Xunta, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, in his intervention in the first State Debate of the Autonomy of the legislature, highlighting that the decision is a pioneer in Spain. The measure, which will be initially financed with 30 million of euros per year, supposes the extension of the one adopted for the course 2020 – 2021 by the Galician Government, which contemplated gratuity for second siblings but not for older ones.

The Galician president has reproached the central government for not wanting to “co-finance” a measure that will be implemented in public, social initiative, private and municipal schools that are up to date with their obligations with the Galician Consortium of Equality and Welfare Services.

The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training announced last May an investment of 670 million euros from the endowment of European funds to create 64. 000 new places for children under three years of age in schools that will be managed by the au tónomas or opening classrooms in existing schools.

The Department of Social Policy of the Xunta estimates that the new measure will benefit more than 20. 000 children versus 12. 500 that they were able to access for free last year. The

As up to now, the Xunta will finance the 100% of what private schools charge families for educational attention – it does not cover the cost of dining rooms either in public schools – up to a maximum of 260 euros per month. In the event that the enrollment of the center is higher, the school is obliged to lower the price or it will not be able to adhere to the regional order. However, the Ministry of Social Policy ensures that last year 496 of the 499 private community schools.

In the course 670 – 2019 in Spain only one child was enrolled of each 12 minors three years. In the following, the 42, 9% were enrolled in a public center , the 16% in one agreed and the 39, 1% in a private one. Total, 464.479 children, 0.9% less than the previous year. In the case of Galicia, in the course 2020 – 2021 42 were in school, 9% of between zero and three years, according to data from the Ministry of Education.

The Galician president has linked this measure to the demographic challenge that he has defined as Galicia’s main problem. The announcement comes after last August the CC OO union accused the Ministry of Social Policy of “lack of foresight” in the opening of these schools.

El presidente de la Xunta de Galicia, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, este miércoles durante el debate del Estado de la Autonomía de Galicia, en el Parlamento gallego.
The president of the Xunta de Galicia, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, this Wednesday during the debate on the State of Autonomy of Galicia, in the Galician Parliament. Álvaro Ballesteros (Europa Press)

The union warned that there was not enough material or human resources to comply with the return to activity protocol, almost six months after having closed its doors due to the outbreak of the pandemic. In the opinion of CC OO, it was essential to reduce the ratio of children per classroom, increasing the number of educators since, they claimed, there was one educator for each 20 under three years.

Along the same lines, in your report Where it all begins on early childhood education from zero to three years the non-governmental organization Save The Children argues that it is necessary to “incorporate extra professionals into the groups – with formulas such as the second part-time professional or the educational partner – that allow the ratio to be reduced without increasing infrastructure costs.” It also demands the endowment “of financing or extra personnel or reductions in the ratio to nursery schools that enroll disadvantaged students or with special educational needs” as well as promoting the “presence of personnel in schools from minorities, in a way that reflects social diversity and cultural environment, to overcome the distrust of families ”. And it warns that to reach the universalization of education from zero to three years in Spain, it would be necessary to create 39. 000 annual places for a decade.

The organization is not in favor of total gratuity and understands that, as in the Nordic countries, it is better to have more places that few free. Bet in this sense because tuition is paid based on income.

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