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In 1996, the Ministry of Education and Culture proposed that the National Institute for Quality and Evaluation undertake an examination and diagnosis of the Spanish educational system. Committees focused on the following areas: student academic performance, teaching plans and methodology, school functioning, the role of teaching, and the relationship between schools and society. In its final report, this diagnostic study spoke to "symptoms" rather than "strengths and weaknesses" of the system. Among the most concerning symptoms and challenges for the future, it cited the following: the low academic performance by students throughout the entire system; increased incidences of vandalism and physical aggression in schools along side of a general lack of discipline; the insufficient training of teachers both at the beginning of their careers as well as ongoing faculty development; lack of communication between families (parents) and schools; the need for a clarification of values both for teachers and families, especially in light of a more pluralistic, democratic, and globally connected Spain; the need to harmonize the obligatory secondary system of education with the needs of a common course of study, the individual needs of students, and the needs of training students for careers and professions necessary for the demands of the Spanish economy.

Some of the newest important features of the Spanish educational system are related to Spain's incorporation in the European Union. This cooperation with the European Union dates from 1986 with Spain's entrance to the Union, but more importantly it corresponds with the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, which clarified the role of education in the Union. Among the significant aspects of this cooperation are the inclusion of Spanish students, professors, and educational specialists in European exchange programs, especially the Socrates Program, the Leonard Di Vinci Program, and the Youth with Europe Program. The Socrates Program, which was approved in 1995, establishes inter-university contracts among universities of the European Union. In addition to exchanges of students and faculty, the Socrates Program also deals with programs that involve language study and teaching, issues of multiculturalism and diversity, teacher training, and databases on European Education Networks such as The Eurydice Educational Network. The Leonardo Di Vinci Program, which was created in 1994 concentrates on European technical and vocational training. Its purpose is to improve technical training in all the countries of the European Union through innovative techniques in the area of vocational training through international exchanges.


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—Rafael Chabrán

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