For a long time and in a persistent manner, various public and private institutions have echoed proposals, emanating from the World Bank and OECD, which aim to be progressive and innovative, but that result in negative consequences for our education system and the cultural and professional level of our citizens.
Concerned about these facts, the people who sign this document want to manifest the following:
1. The access to culture and knowledge is essential for personal and social emancipation, and thus contributes to reducing inequalities. Barring new generations from this access scams them and denies them the opportunity to enjoy a full life in the personal, social and work spheres. The education system must provide global training for understanding the world, its problems and provide tools to improve it.
2. However, legal changes and policies from the education administration pursue other objectives. In the line marked by bodies at the service of multinational corporations and rising in the prestige of the pedagogical renewal movement in Spain, the intention is now to expel the knowledge from the school, replacing it with alleged competences that, without it, are empty and only useful for the exercise of unqualified labor. These changes in teaching objectives and methodologies have not been the result of any debate with teachers, but rather an imposition, often channeled through private organizations such as Escola Nova21, Telefónica, Google or La Caixa, with the support of some media outlets. On the contrary, teachers, who work in difficult conditions, arising from budget cuts and the social environment, are denigrated and denied of scientific and academic authority.
3. The axis of the changes is to implement, at all stages of the education system, what is called competency learning. This, although it does not have an accurate and generally accepted definition, is often manifested in proposing to students’ problems that they must solve through the knowledge they deem necessary and are able to find. Of course, and the experience confirms it, that with this approach it is very difficult for the students to achieve a comprehensive training, which must include the assimilation of a structured body of knowledge, with the appropriate level of each educational stage. On the other hand, this approach increases teachers' dedication to bureaucratic tasks of questionable utility, to the detriment of attention to the education and support for students.
4. To implement the changes, the power of management has been strengthened, both in terms of the definition of the center’s project and in selecting teachers without objective criteria or transparency. This presents itself as an improvement in the autonomy of the centers. And makes it possible that a part of the teachers, out of affinity or fear of endangering their jobs, to take on the orientations of management unwillingly. In addition, this policy increases segregation within the education system in creating or deepening the differences between the public centers themselves.
5. In this context, during the last election campaign, the Department of Teaching of the acting government announced that, under the LOMLOE (Spanish Act regulating primary and secondary education), it was drafting a decree to reform the baccalaureate. At the same time, and with equal media coverage, it was brought to light that three high school teachers had launched the Change High School initiative and some information showed students in a state of distress at the prospect of having to pass college access tests.
6. Claiming ESO (Compulsory Secondary School) is about competences and the baccalaureate is not, it would be about changing the baccalaureate and access tests as an intermediate step towards eliminating them. And changing University later. But you can't see why one mandatory stage and one that isn't, with very different objectives, they should be homogeneous. And, before making further changes, we would have to evaluate the results of what has been done in ESO. Because if the problem is that if in an ESO based on competences students don't have enough knowledge to access the baccalaureate, the change needs to happen in the first and not the latter.
7. Educational systems should be open to content and method renewal in order for the student to solidly assimilate the knowledge of each stage and acquire the corresponding skills and attitudes. Criticism is a necessary condition for improvement. But this does not mean giving up the basic purposes of education: to train educated people, with solid and structured knowledge and with a critical and supportive spirit, and not a “factory" of uneducated, submissive and flexible people, at the immediate service of the economic system.
8. We therefore call for educational reforms not to be based on proposals by supposedly expert individuals or entities, which are sometimes at the service of objectives contrary to those of education. And to avoid unmeditative changes and uncertain consequences because in the field of education they have hardly reversible and possibly negative consequences for those affected.
We also believe that the definition of the objectives, content and forms of our education system should be the result of a participatory process.
Therefore, from the SIEC (Seminari Ítaca d'Educació Crítica) we ask that as professionals of education, as families, as people linked to education or as citizens, you sign this manifesto and share it, as a first step to open a debate on this and establish mechanisms to prevent the education system from ending up at the service of multinational corporation instead of people.