Almost half of the students in Tarragona study at the concertada
In the city of Tarragona there are almost as many students studying in concerted centers as in public ones. They are 45% in Early Childhood Education, 46% in primary and 44% in ESO, according to data released a few days ago in the report on schooling in the city.
The case of Tarragona, however, is not very different from that of other cities. According to the report 'La concertada a debate', prepared by the Fundació Jaume Bofill, currently 31.5% of students in the compulsory stage in Catalonia study at the concertada, although the percentage rises in the cities. In Barcelona it reaches 54.4%.
The report also reveals that Catalonia is among the seven educational systems of the OECD with a greater weight of concerted education. The data is relevant because, according to the study, international research shows that mixed provision models (public and subsidized private) tend to increase school segregation and educational inequalities.
The public takes over
Adrián Zancajo, a researcher at the Globalization, Education and Social Policies (GEPS) research group at the UAB and one of the authors of the report, explains that the intention was to put on the table the objective data that demonstrated the inequalities between students who go to school between one center and another.
To sample, a button: in 2nd cycle and primary education, the public sector enrolls 2.1 times more foreign students, 1.6 times more students with educational support needs and 4.2 times more low-level students socioeconomic.
In Catalonia as a whole, the public school represents 66% of the enrollment but educates 84% of the students with a canteen scholarship.
What is most difficult, acknowledges Zancajo, is knowing the weight of the factors that cause these inequalities, "because the concerted one is very diverse," he warns.
It is clear, yes, that the fees charged by the concerted schools “play an important role, sought or not, in exclusion, which generates a barrier to entry for families who cannot afford them. "They can say that the fees are voluntary, but if they can't go to the same activities as their peers, those students feel excluded," he exemplifies.
In some cases, moreover, especially in concerted schools located in areas with a higher socioeconomic level (he cites the example of Barcelona), quotas are also a "model of social distinction" and present the fact of having students from a more favored condition as part of its educational offer.
There is also a geographical condition: the larger the municipality, the more concerted. In the data used for the study (2019-2020 academic year) in Catalonia as a whole, the percentage of students in the concerted in municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants was 2.6% and 40% in those with more than 100,000 inhabitants .
However, as shown by the town-to-town data in the Tarragona demarcation, there are small municipalities with a particularly high concerted offer, such as L'Arboç (5,625 inhabitants), where that year 70.8% went to the concerted offer.
The report concludes that "it is not possible to advance towards the objectives of equity and quality of the educational system without adequate regulation of the concerted sector." And he asks, among others, "that the public financing of the concerted centers be made conditional on their co-responsibility in the fight against school segregation and in the progressive elimination of family fees and contributions."
They also clarify that “international agreements recognize the obligation on the part of the states to guarantee freedom of education, but this right does not necessarily entail the obligation on the part of the State to finance private education. The concerts are not a subsidy for an educational activity, but rather a contract between the educational administration and the concerted schools for the provision of a public service».
TGN: change the distribution
In the case of the city of Tarragona, however, the distribution of students with socioeconomic needs should begin to change shortly. This year, without going any further, a significant effort has been made to detect students who have a disadvantaged socioeconomic or cultural situation before they enter the system. In total, it was found that they are 22% of those who have entered P3.
Jessica Casas, municipal representative in the Admission Guarantees Commission, explains that it was a job in which Social Services participated, crossing the data of its users with children of school starting age, up to the EAP (counseling teams and psychopedagogical orientation) of the centers, among others.
Thanks to this detection, a reservation of places was made by school zones in the proximity of the students, regardless of whether the centers in the area were public or concerted. The response to this new form of distribution was positive, "everyone did their part," he says.
The councilor for education, Manel Castaño, appreciates the effort and highlights that this change in the way students are distributed in a more balanced way has been possible "thanks to the work and coordination between the Generalitat de Catalunya and the Tarragona City Council" . He assures that "from the IMET, and within the framework of the Municipal School Council's Observatory for Equity, we will continue to encourage measures that revert to greater social cohesion and educational success of the student body, always, with the complicity of all the centers of the city ».
“We have never closed the door”
Pablo Muñoz is director of the Escola Sant Pau and interlocutor of the concerted schools of the city. He points out about the report that "the numbers support everything, but you have to go to the bottom of the matter." In the case of the city of Tarragona, he believes that the weight of the urban layout in the segregation of students must be taken into account, and he points out that there are also public schools where diversity is minimal.
Muñoz acknowledges that the collection of fees is a factor that persuades some families, but at the same time points out that, without these fees, the concerted organization would not survive. The report itself recognizes that "the current financing of the concerted sector does not allow to cover the basic expenses of the educational activity of the schools." Public financing accounts for 55% of the income of the concerted centers and the quotas of the families, 40%, they point out.
What Muñoz does say is that the concerted organizations of the city have never caused problems for families with socioeconomic needs, "on the contrary, if they are assigned to us, we will help in whatever is necessary."
Regarding the assignment that has been made this year in P3, remember that the Department of Education announced that an "inexpensive backpack" would be assigned to students with special vulnerability who went to the concerted one, but it has not yet arrived. However, they trust that they will receive it. “It is appreciated that the Department makes this economic effort, this will help us breathe,” he points out. And it is that the current one is being a particularly complicated course economically due to the prices of electricity and materials "and we have not yet put the heating on," he laments.
Enrollment in the demarcation of Tarragona:
Municipalities with more students in the concerted school in infant and primary education (year 19-20)
me the strawberry tree 70.8%
me Francoli's Espluga 50.5%
me Tarragona 45.7%
me Reus 41.8%
me Ebro blackberry 38.6%
Municipalities with more students in the concerted school in compulsory secondary education (course 19-20)
me the strawberry tree 50.9%
me Tarragona 47.8%
me Reus 39.7%
me Tortosa 30.9%
me Mont Blanc 26.1%
Source: Bofill Foundation