The autonomous communities plan, so far, to hire 25,191 covid reinforcement teachers for the course that is about to start, according to the data they have provided to EL PAÍS. The figure will increase because four communities, Catalonia, Murcia, Aragon and La Rioja, have not yet announced their plans, which are expected in the next few days. The total number will be predictably below that of last year, when hiring throughout the year ranged from 35,000 to 39,000 backup teachers.
Eight territories plan to maintain the same or similar number of reinforcements as last year. These are Castilla-La Mancha (3,000 teachers), the Basque Country (1,064), the Balearic Islands (540) and Navarra (379), as well as Castilla y León (1,300), Galicia (1,250), Extremadura (700) and Asturias (392 ), although the last four warn that the amounts could still change somewhat. Three territories have reported an increase in hiring: the Valencian Community (which will incorporate 5,042 reinforcement teachers, 668 more than last year), the Canary Islands (2,674, add 174) and Cantabria (619, 150 more). At the other extreme is Madrid, which has announced that it will hire 2,931 reinforcement teachers, 7,679 less than last year, when they reached 10,610 (although a part of them ended their contract In Christmas). Andalusia, the territory with the largest school population in Spain, will also reduce reinforcements, although in a less drastic way: it will have 5,300, about 2,400 less than last year.
The aforementioned data includes both the direct hiring that the autonomous administrations will carry out for their public networks and the incorporation of reinforcement teachers in the concerted school that the autonomies plan to finance.
Why (so far) 11 communities are going to maintain or increase the number of teachers if the new sanitary hygiene protocol allows them to expand the number of students per classroom? Autonomous sources affirm, on the one hand, that the return to full presence in the institutes will force to make unfolds and to enable spaces in many centers, especially in the old ones, which have classrooms where, despite the reduction of the minimum interpersonal distance ( 1.5 to 1.2 meters), a full standard group will not fit.
And, in addition, the same sources continue, part of the teaching staff will not be used to divide the classes to meet the maximum ratios, which was the priority last year, but to expand the reinforcement programs to alleviate the educational impact accumulated from the beginning of the pandemic as a result of lockdowns and blended teaching. Some programs that will be specified in support classes for students with difficulties or in the introduction of a second teacher in class to offer a more personalized attention to the kids.
A few months ago, communities made more restrictive hiring calculations. But since spring, regional sources point out, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance have turned on the money tap, thanks largely to European recovery funds. The Government agreed at the beginning of August to deliver 13,486 million euros to the autonomies – 70% in September and the rest in November – to face the pandemic. In the Sectorial Conference on Education last Wednesday, the paradox occurred that some regional councilors asked the minister. Pilar Alegría. that the Government limit the ability of its own executives to distribute the funds and impose that a part must go to education. The minister urged the communities to establish training as a priority when distributing the covid fund, but it seems ruled out that the Government establishes a finalist character for the money.
Last year, the Government gave the autonomies a covid fund of 16,000 million and said that 2,000 of them should be allocated to education. But since the autonomies did not have to justify their fate, there was no control of how they had used the money.
In addition to the general covid fund of 13,486 million, the Ministry of Education has approved in recent months large economic items for the autonomies. These are aimed at programs to reinforce and guide students (150 million), Vocational Training and digitization of the education system (close to 1,000 million in each case), increase in child education places (200 million) and purchase aid of textbooks and teaching materials (48.5 million). Some funds that have relieved the educational budgets and have made it easier for the majority to maintain, at least, the reinforcements.
The assessment of the educational community is very different depending on the plans of their counseling. Antoni González Picornell, president of the association of directors of public institutes of the Valencian Community, is satisfied. “In our case, the reinforcements took place between June and July. When designing the organization of the centers for the new course, each center said how many teachers it needed to guarantee 100% attendance, and that’s how it worked ”. On the other hand, Mari Carmen Morillas, president of the Giner de los Ríos family federation in Madrid, laments the loss of 72% of the teaching staff in her region. “It is clear that for our Government education is not a priority. Sadly, moreover, there has been no dialogue with the families. They have not summoned us to a meeting and they have not even been able to make a call ”.
Francisco García, general secretary of the Federation of Teaching of Workers’ Commissions, the majority union in the sector, affirms that the differences between some communities and others reflect “the importance” that each one gives to education. And it also criticizes the decision of the Government and of the communities as a whole to relax the prevention standards in educational centers, allowing a greater number of students per classroom, which in turn translates into less need for teachers. “They have sent a bad message,” says García, “very different from last year and similar to a return to the old normality. And it is a mistake because the delta variant is very contagious, students over 12 years of age are not yet vaccinated with the full schedule, and their vaccination is not scheduled for those under 12 years of age ”.