Students want more resources, support and engagement as classes return

National Youth Council of Catalonia president "disappointed" with public administrations

Guillermo Chirino Gálvez, president of the National Youth Council of Catalonia, September 17, 2020 (ACN)
Guillermo Chirino Gálvez, president of the National Youth Council of Catalonia, September 17, 2020 (ACN) / Lorcan Doherty

Lorcan Doherty | Barcelona

September 18, 2020 05:47 PM

On Monday morning, September 14, over one and a half million children and young people across Catalonia went back to school for the first time in six months. By Friday, more than 100 school groups were in quarantine.

Catalan News spoke to Guillermo Chirino Gálvez, president of the National Youth Council of Catalonia, to find out how students – both at school and at university – are feeling about the return to the classroom.

How do you assess the authorities' back-to-school plan?

We feel very disappointed with the public administration mainly for two reasons: first, for the lack of response of the public administration up to the very last minute. We did not have these discussions about what it would be like when we go back to school until the last moment, days before starting school, that created a lot of stress among families. And second, because the measures applied by the Catalan government are not enough in order to satisfy our current needs.

What actions should be taken as this atypical academic year begins?

There are a lot of kids who have been affected by Covid-19, also because maybe the social and economic situation of their families is very different now than it was before March. And of course, there are a lot of kids that have lost a friend or a family member.

The school system should be a way for us to deal with that, have these conversations, to talk about grief and how we deal with that.

And the second thing that we really needed was more resources from the administration, especially teachers or places to study. A lot of schools don't have the capacity for a lot of groups studying simultaneously so we need more space.

What are the lessons to be learned from the peak of the pandemic?

If we reach that level of insecurity again, one of the approaches that we recommend is that kids, teens, and youth that do not have the tools, the necessary technology at home, they could still go to the university or school in person.

All the resources in the public administration, such as computers, routers, and others should be able to go to the students so that they have those tools.

And what is the mood like among students going back?

Students feel very hopeful. During lockdown a lot of students were not able to study, for social or financial reasons. We're thrilled now go be able to go back to school or university to meet friends and study. We're also very happy with the whole education community. Teachers, staff and students are all doing as much as we can to make studying as normal as possible.