Historic mobilizations in Spain to protest against a law that limits Freedom of Education.

Fuente: EFE

A few days before Christmas the Spanish Senate passed the new educational Law. This Law has been promoted by the current Minister for Education and Professional Training in Spain, Mme. Celaá. This new law, called LOMLOE, but most popularly known as Ley Celaá, has generated serious debates between the government and the opposition, as well as unprecedented civil society mobilizations.

Following amendments made to the initial draft, the government managed to proceed with the proposed bill, creating major discontent among the opposition. The organic bill went ahead in Congress and in the Senate, despite many protests and political opposition. 

We can highlight two controversial aspects of this law. First, the most problematic aspect of the bill concern the abandonment of the criteria of social demand to distribute public funds. The new law limits the access to public funds for escuelas concertadas – non-governmental publicly funded schools- to those cases in which state-run schools do not have enough room for all the students. The second controversial aspect concerns educational centers for students with special needs.

Concerning the educational centers for students with special needs the law argues that within 10 years, special education centers must have been fully absorbed by public inclusive education centers. This has caused major unease around the capability to adapt all centers to the particular needs of all these children, given that there are already experienced educational centers that fulfill special needs. 

Finally, we would like to reflect on the most controversial issue, the rigid focus of LOMLOE concerning the funding of education. Escuelas concertadas – non-governmental, non-commercial publicly funded schools- have conformed the Spanish educational system since 1985. They were based on the French model of 1957. They constitute an alternative to a unique educational model, which favours diversity in the country. Today, around a quarter of Spain’s students attend these centers. The dual educational model ensures plurality in society, which is essential to democracy. Under this model, which equally considers public and private education, freedom of parents is fully guaranteed. What is most interesting of the model is the focus on the right of choice. On previous educational laws, the Spanish state had a positive obligation to guarantee the freedom of parents to choose from different educational models. The new law wants to limit these schools to those students who do not have access to publicly managed schools.

The absence of an available for all alternative to public education endangers the right to free education under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) as stated in Articles 13.3 and 13.4, which specifically obliges states to respect the parents’ right to freedom of education. Despite the health crisis, in Madrid, and in most of the major cities of Spain, there have been massive car demonstrations to protest against this law.

Emma Ramos

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