Government calls on firms to cede spaces to schools
Education plan includes a maximum of 13 to 15 students per classroom in 2020-2021 for most stages
The Catalan government has called on firms to cede spaces to schools for the 2020-2021 school year.
The education minister, Josep Bargalló, said in parliament on Thursday that he had met with Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce the day before in order to seek help among businesspeople.
The plan presented by Bargalló on Wednesday including reopening centers from June 1 in the areas in de-escalation lockdown Phase 2, although not for regular lessons.
The project also included that classes would be in-person for 2020-2021 but there would be a maximum of 13 to 15 students per class in the majority of cases.
This is one of the issues that has raised doubts among the opposition parties and unions. Will the system, now working at a 25 to 30 students per class rate, have double the number of classrooms?
Bargalló said that it is the government, and not schools, the one responsible for finding new spaces but said that everyone must “help.”
“We have been able to get more ICUs and more beds in hospitals, so we also have to be able to find more spaces for education,” he said before the lawmakers.
The other question raised was the amount of extra staff that will be needed to execute the plans, but while it is clear that no more teachers will be hired for the end of the current school year, Bargalló did not clarify how many extra professionals will be needed from September.
Facing criticism of unions for the plan presented yesterday, in an interview with Tv3, the minister said that he is open to “reviewing” it. For instance, he called the widespread opposition to allow a maximum of 13 students per classroom for 3-6 year-olds from June 1 “reasonable.”
While the maximum capacity for rooms with infants of 1 to 3 years old will be reduced to 5, numbers will be capped at 13 per group in primary school and 15 per group for secondary school or other public centers like language schools.
Unions and some opposition parties said that the plan opens the door to an unequal right to education.
Five unions call for minister's resignation
Five unions – USTEC·STEs, Intersindical CSC, ASPEPC·SPS, UGT and CGT – have issued a joint statement calling for Bargalló to resign and for management and the wider education community not to open schools without first guaranteeing a safe and secure working environment.
The statement says it would be "totally irresponsible" to go back to the classroom in these conditions and criticized the minister for not negotiating the reopening with them.
They want Bargalló to quit "because he has shown that he does not listen to the workers, nor to their representatives".
The CCOO union said while they agreed with much of the statement they did not sign it as they believe Bargalló stepping down at this point would be counterproductive.