Education is in danger: the succession of 8 different laws already takes its toll on students


On a recurring basis, the debate on the next reform of the education law is activated in the media . It is then when the use of the acronym of turn is extended: LOECE , LOGSE , LOE , etc., to name the law that awaits us.

We have lived it eight times in the last 40 years, with an average duration of five for each law since 1980. Changes discussed in syllabi, subjects, debates around religion, ethics, education for citizenship and the permanence of education concerted.

From the beginning of the current democratic period until eight years ago, the agreement to achieve a stable educational law depended on bipartisan negotiations between the Popular Party and the PSOE. Since 2014, the progressive emergence of new political forces – multipartyism – has complicated the possibility of such a long-term educational agreement.

If to this volatility of educational laws we add the process of educational transfers to the autonomous communities, with an unavoidable milestone in Organic Law 9/1992 , of December 23, we configure the current educational puzzle.

A fragmented knowledge five to five years

A succession of generations educated with different educational laws, with an increasing degree of differentiation by autonomous communities, which fragments us in knowledge five to five, law by law and by autonomous communities.

This growing differentiation from what we know, combined with the data on the percentage of the young population (between 20 and 24 years old) who have completed secondary education – 75%, according to the Labor Force Survey – presents a remarkable paradox.

When we reach the highest percentage of the young population with a high school education level, a high percentage of the same population segment manifests ignorance about what happened during the Transition to Democracy.

75% of young people do not know who Tejero is

The majority of young people (75%) between 18 and 34 years old do not know who Antonio Tejero is, while 60.4% do not know what happened in the attempted coup in 1981, according to the study carried out by NC Report in February 2021.

To complete the panorama of youth education and the degree of training, according to the latest report of the Economic Consensus (first quarter 2021) , prepared by the consulting firm PwC, Young people, training and employment in Spain , the unemployment rate is between 16 and 24 years has reached 38%, much higher than in most European countries.

In addition, for slightly higher ages of young people, their unemployment also exceeds that of Spain as a whole: for those aged 16 to 34, on average in 2020, it stood at 24%, double that of the active 35 and over years. According to Eurostat , young Spaniards show an excessive weight of primary and tertiary studies, on the other hand, a manifest insufficiency of secondary ones.

More unemployment to more training

In other words, the higher the percentage of training achieved by the Spanish population, the higher the number of youth unemployment is also, perhaps due to training away from the professions, combined with ignorance of our recent history. It is a qualified population, lacking the professional skills demanded by the technical labor market and with gaps in basic knowledge of our recent history.

What are those shortcomings with which students arrive at the university? Obviously, those derived from a short-lived and fragmented educational system. We accumulate decades without facing education with a long-term perspective and the granting of transfers in educational matters has increased the differences between students who go to university.

Before we shared shortcomings, we all came from a single national educational system, sustained over time. Now the deficiencies depend on the academic performance of the student, the autonomous community and the eight legislative changes in education since 1980.

What should be learned in high school?

Could we determine what knowledge our young people should have and do not obtain in ESO and Baccalaureate? Complex question with complex answer. Before, now, and probably in the future, we will be able to determine possible diverse gaps in knowledge of the students who arrive at the university, but it does not seem possible to generate a concrete, closed and mutually agreed list in this regard.

What for some university professors is a lack, for others not, and that discussion goes a long way. However, that also not all have similar deficiencies makes it even more difficult to adapt to the university.

Only the last quarter of the 20th century is studied

Why don’t you know the latest events? In some autonomous communities, the last quarter of the twentieth century is not taught until the second year of Baccalaureate, which means that those who do not reach that level of education have never seen it in class.

24% of the population has not completed secondary education, according to the labor force survey, and a percentage of them do not assimilate all the knowledge adequately, according to the PISA report . To this must be added the educational fragmentation by autonomous communities.

This explains why the most recent events escape the general knowledge of a significant percentage of those under 30 years of age. It is true that they can access the information online, but we leave that responsibility to them.

Does this explain the high Spanish youth unemployment, compared to average levels in the EU ? No, for that, the causes of that aforementioned vocational training space, not yet covered, must be thoroughly reviewed.

Author Bio: Fernando Tomé Bermejo is Prof. Doctor in Economics and Vice-Rector for Students and Employability at Nebrija University