A Silver Lining

On Tuesday of this week teachers across Spain went on strike to protest against proposed cuts in education spending that would see class sizes rise by on average 20%, decreased salaries and the loss of up to 100,000 substitute teachers.

With my son due to start school in September the state education system is naturally a subject close to my heart. It is also one of the hot topics of conversation on the street, along with more general ‘crisis’ musings.

The consensus of the crowd in Casa Joselu (our local bar) last week was that our local school should be safe from closure or loss of teachers. Being a tiny country school with only two teachers to begin with (one for Infants and one for Primaria) they’d be hard pushed to cut teacher numbers.

Interestingly, class sizes in the school have already increased organically over the course of the last year and this trend looks set to continue. This is also due, at least in part, to the effects of the economic crisis. As unemployment soars in the cities we have seen a return to the countryside of a number of young families in a quest to live more cheaply, with extended family and/or off the land.

In an area which has suffered from severe depoplulation over recent decades and with the oldest demographic in Europe this influx of new life is very much a cause for celebration.

It has also almost certainly saved the local school from potentially severe cuts. Two years ago when my neighbours’ two children were starting school here, student numbers were worryingly low – the mayor feared the loss of staff, or worse. Last month, when I went in with Jack’s application the Infants teacher told me how her class size had almost doubled over the course of this academic year (from 7 to a still very manageable 12).

While the economic news continues to go from bad to worse it’s comforting to remember that every cloud has a silver lining and that people and communities are constantly surprising in their resourcefulness and ability to adapt in times of adversity.

Comments

  1. How nice (and rare) to read a post taking such a positive view. I’ve read about people going back to working on the land, but not about families returning to/settling in country villages. Sounds like Jack will have a great time in his small class – my kids’ (one starting Inf in Sept, the other going up to Primaria) are both 25+.

  2. Similar issues in rural areas here, but glad things may work out for your family. A return to the country might be good over the long-term.

    • Absolutely – in many ways it’s great to see a return to the country and a simpler way of life, even if it is only by default in some instances. I also find it fascinating that there is such a commonality of experience in rural areas across the world. Love hearing from people in other places – thanks!

  3. Sounds like a lovely school… Love your positive outlook :)

    • It is a lovely school, which I feel very fortunate about. The small size is great for the tinies, like Jack. And he already knows a lot of the children from the parks and birthday parties – so he’ll be fine. It’s just me I’m worried about ;)

  4. Wishing the very best for Jack and all his classmates in this next school year. The return to the land and extended families is very much part of the response of many young families to the economic downturn in the U.S., as well. Yes, we must hold fast to adaptability and flexibility in all coming changes.

  5. Every cloud does have a silver lining – hoping repopulation of rural areas can only be a good thing,

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