Education minister's letter 'outrages' parents as fallout over poor PISA results continues

Family associations say they are being blamed for poor student performance

Catalan Education Minister Anna Simó
Catalan Education Minister Anna Simó / Francesc Voltas
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

December 15, 2023 02:38 PM

December 15, 2023 03:01 PM

The controversy over the poor performance of Catalan students in the PISA tests, where they scored below the Spanish average and many OECD countries, continues.  

On Thursday, Catalan Education Minister Anna Simó sent a letter to families in response to the poor performance of Catalan students. In the letter, she asked parents to support teachers and urged them to get involved in their children's education as they are "the key to educational success."    

Simó said that the necessary reforms to improve the situation are already being promoted, with particular emphasis on strengthening learning in reading, mathematics and languages.   

The letter also emphasized that families play an essential role "not only in getting involved in the academic process, but also in supporting the time devoted to learning or reading, and in the responsible management of screen time on electronic devices."   

The letter "outraged" the Association of Federated Families of Students of Catalonia (aFFaC), the largest parents' association in Catalonia.

They argued that after years of "neglecting and ignoring families," the minister is asking them to do what "they are incapable of doing," such as regulating the use of mobile phones, promoting reading and providing learning support. 

The organization claimed to have been proposing measures for many years to address the situation now brought to light by the poor results of the latest PISA report. They said they regret that all their proposals have been systematically rejected by education officials.  

In response to criticism, Anna Simó refused to rectify the content of the letter. In an interview with public broadcaster TV3 on Friday, Simó said that "everyone must take responsibility" and denied that the government was putting the blame on parents. 

Education summit in Parliament next week 

Catalan President Pere Aragonès called a meeting with parliamentary groups - all except the far-right Vox - on December 19 to discuss the results of the PISA report.    

Aragonès said he wanted to promote "bold changes" in education through consensus among the parties, and urged them to focus on "education policy" rather than "party politics."    

However, many parties agree that the government's response has been "slow" and are skeptical about the results of this summit.