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Spain - Educational System—overview

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceSpain - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education

EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM—OVERVIEW

The educational system was reorganized in the following manner: preschool (from 0 to 6 years) was organized into two cycles (0 to 3 years and 3 to 6 years); elementary education (ages 6 to 12 years) was organized into three cycles (6 to 8 years, 8 to 10 years, and 10 to 12 years); compulsory education (ages 12 to 16 years) was divided into two cycles (12 to 14 years and 14 to 16 years); and secondary education (16 to 18 years) included either bachillerato (preparation for university studies) or professional training (vocational training). One of the innovations of the LOGSE was the introduction of constructivist approaches to learning and teaching based on the ideas of Piaget, schema theory, and the social constructivism of Vygotski.

Compulsory education in Spain is provided by the LOGSE legislation. According to this law, compulsory free education is for the 10-year period of all children from 6 to 16 years of age. This compulsory education is divided into two stages of education—primary education from ages 6 to 12 and secondary education (Educación secundaria obligatoria or ESO) from ages 12 to 16. The later is divided into two, two-year cycles. The most common ages for the first cycle is 12 to 14 years, while the ages for the second cycle are and 14 to 16 years. Compulsory education is considered to be public service and, as such, is publicly funded.

According to the Ministry of Education, during 1999 student enrollments were as follows: preprimary, 1,131,044 students; primary education, 2,526,565 students; special education, 27,160 students; first cycle of ESO (compulsory education), 968,233 students; second cycle of ESO, 1,037,251 students; and bachillerato level, 484,260 students. A total of 70 percent of students attended public schools and 30 percent attended private institutions.

For the most part, women in Spain have reached equality. They represent equal, near equal, and sometimes above equal representation in all levels of education. At the preprimary level, they represent 48.0 percent of students; at the primary level, 48.0 percent; at the secondary level (ESO), 48.9 percent; at the bachillerato level, 53.0 percent; vocational training (FP), 47.0 percent; and university level, 53.2 percent.

The official school calendar is not established by the state, but by each autonomous community, according to minimum standards. The same calendar must be in effect for all cities, towns and areas within the autonomous community. In Spain, the layout of the school year varies according to the educational level. For preschools, the school year begins in the first week of September and ends in the last week of July. In Spain, most schools have one-week holidays at Christmas and Easter, as well as the entire month of August. Individual autonomous communities also offer particular individual holidays. For primary education, the term is from September to June. For secondary education it is from September to June; however, for higher education, the school year is from October to June.

According to the Spanish Constitution of 1978 (amended in 1992), "The Spanish Nation promotes and protects all Spanish people in the exercise of human rights, their culture, tradition, and languages." In Article 3 of the Constitution, it is stipulated that Castilian Spanish is the official language of the nation, together with the co-official languages of the autonomous communities: Catalán (Catalonian) in Cataluña and the Baberaric Island; Basque (Euskera) in the Basque Country and in Navarre; Galician (Gallego) in Galicia; and Valencian (Valenciano) in Valencia. It should be noted that Catalán, Gallego, and Valenciano are romance languages derived from Latin and Basque, a non-proto-type-European language of unknown origins. The Spanish Constitution further recognizes the right of the autonomous communities to use their languages in administration and teaching. Spanish and the regional languages of the autonomous communities are the languages of instruction in all centers of compulsory education. The use of the various languages of the autonomous communities varies and is subject to the politics of language policy.

Spanish institutions of higher education have also included the use of regional languages so that Basque is used in Basque's universities, Gallego in the Universities of Santiago and Vigo and Catalán, and Valenciano in the areas of Cataluña and Valencia. It should be noted that Catalán is also used in areas of Aragon, and that Valenciano is closely related to Catalán; some would consider it a dialect, but there is no official agreement on its relationship to Catalán. In most Spanish universities, the language of the autonomous communities, where they are different from Spanish, is the language of administration; however, Spanish is used throughout in teaching.

Grading at the secondary level is done on a 1 to 10 point scale, with the following notation: 10, Excellent (Sobresaliente, Matricula de honor); 8.5 through 9, Outstanding (Sobresaliente); 7 through 8.4, Very Good (Notable); 6 through 6.9, Good (Bien); 5 through 6, Passing (Suficiente); Below 5, Failure (Insuficiente). Grading at the university level is also done on a 10-point scale. The grade of 10 is Excellent (Matricula de Honor); 9 through 9.9, Outstanding; 7 through 8.9, Good; 5 through 6.9, Passing; Below 5, Failure.

The bachillerato (baccalaureate) curriculum requires two years of study with a common curriculum for all students and specific curricular paths for students in art, natural science and health, humanities and social sciences, and technology. The common curriculum includes physical education, philosophy, foreign language, religion, and electives. The different autonomous communities offer differences in educational paths and timetables but the greatest differences are in the area of electives. Most of the autonomous communities include electives with content and subjects, which are specific to each region such as history of the Canary Islands or geography of Andalusia. Since 1978, the bachillerato curriculum also includes the regional language of the autonomous communities (Catalan, Gallego, Basque, and Valencian). The study of languages includes English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Latin, and Greek. In addition to the latter, most schools must offer at least two foreign languages.

Textbooks for primary and secondary levels are selected by the National School Council in collaboration with the educational administrations of the Autonomous Communities. The National School Council selects materials, which will be used in common for all of Spain, and the Autonomous Councils select those materials that are specific to regions.


Special Education & Learning Disabilities: Learning disabilities as they are defined in the United States and other countries does not exist as a legal category in the area of special education. There is no legislation that has considered learning disabilities as a diagnostic category, and IQ-achievement is not used for the identification of learning disabilities. In Spain, it is conceptualized in a much broader sense, which ranges from permanent deficits (sensorial, physical motor, and intellectual) to socalled "transitory" or less severe deficits.

Special education does indeed have a long history in Spain though. It dates perhaps back to 1550, with the work of Pedro Poncé de León and his attempts at educating deaf children. In 1785, the first school for the education of deaf-mutes was established in Spain. As one might imagine, throughout Spanish history there have been many prejudices associated with the concept of deficiency. Popular negative attitudes have not met with the needs for the education of this population. Plans for the compulsory education of all Spanish children during the twentieth century further underscored the problems and needs for special education in Spain.


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