Families spend 35% more on education given the stagnation of public investment

More than 19,800 million euros. That is the amount that Spanish households spent on their children’s education in the 2019/2020 academic year, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE). This figure represents a 51% growth compared to the 2011/2012 academic year, the previous edition of the Survey on Household Expenditure on Education.

For its part, the annual report State system of education indicators 2020, prepared by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, shows that, While family spending on education has grown by 35% in a decade (2008-2018), public investment has only grown by 1.8%. Moreover, in 2014 the money allocated by the Government for this purpose reached its minimum in this period at 44,789 million euros, 16.8% less than in 2009, when it registered its highest level.

“Families are facing expenses that should be covered by the administrations and, every year, going back to school is more expensive. It seems that, given the lack of investment, families have to respond economically when public school has to be free, “says Leticia Cardenal, president of the Spanish Confederation of Associations of Parents of Students (CEAPA).

An opinion shared by Andrea González Henry, president of the State Confederation of Student Associations (CANAE), who believes that the lack of public investment is pushing families to have to undertake greater spending: “where it is not the administrations that provide the materials or services, they are the families who have to meet these expenses. And they are not exactly few: school supplies, photocopies, books, transport in some cases, electronic devices or the dining room, among others. If, in addition, these families do not receive scholarships, the expense they have to assume is much more “.

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In this regard, in the 2019/2020 academic year each student needed, on average, 1,649 euros, according to data from the INE. Of these, almost 80% for educational services (enrollment and classes, dining room, extracurricular activities …) and the other 20% for goods for educational purposes (textbooks, uniforms, stationery …).

Free education?

Within the expenses in regulated educational services, Enrollment and classes are the item with the highest outlay, 765 euros on average per student. For its part, the canteen service, whose total amount exceeds 1,240 million euros, represents 10.4% of the total expenditure of families (439 euros per student). Extracurricular activities and teaching support and reinforcement classes are the other two items that weigh the most in the portfolio: 174 and 453 euros, on average, in each case.

On the side of assets acquired for educational purposes, textbooks and study aid total more than 1,170 million euros, the average household expenditure being 167 euros. Computer products represent the other major bill in this area, with a total outlay of 1,158 million euros, an average of 165 euros in each household.

In this context, in public education each student generates an average expenditure of 458 euros in Early Childhood Education; 435 euros in Primary Education; 336 euros in Secondary Education; and 1,344 euros in Higher Education. “To achieve real gratuity in public school, more investment is needed. We need educational projects with their economic memory, that is, we cannot increase the budget to continue doing the same as up to now “, emphasizes Leticia Cardenal.

Spain has a decentralized model of management and administration of the educational system, so that educational competences are divided between the General State Administration (Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Ministry of Universities and Ministry of Labor and Social Economy) and the autonomous communities (Councils or Departments of Education). Of the 50,807 million euros allocated in 2018, 83.8% was contributed by the autonomous communities. Of the total amount, scholarships and grants account for 4.4%.

Expanding photography to the autonomous communities, the differences are notable. A) Yes, The Basque Country is the territory that contributes the most public spending per student, 9,298 euros regardless of college education. Navarra (7,456 euros), Galicia (6,932 euros), Asturias (6,927 euros) and Cantabria (6,864 euros) complete the first positions. In the queue is the Community of Madrid, with a public expenditure per student of 4,727 euros, Andalusia, with 5,077 euros, and Castilla-La Mancha, with 5,255 euros.

Therefore, depending on the autonomous community, it is easier or not for families to be able to cope with the expenses incurred by studies. “Some have scholarships for school supplies, dining room, early childhood education … while others do not. Even among those that have scholarships, the requirements vary from one to another, so the same family in one community could be a scholarship recipient and not in another. The criteria vary a lot in some respects. While there are autonomous communities that allocate many of their scholarships to private centers, there are others that focus more on public education, for example, “says Andrea González Henry.

Madrid is the autonomous community with the lowest public spending per student

According to him State system of education indicators 2020, in 2017 12.5% ​​of public spending on education and 14.3% of the expenditure of the educational administrations was dedicated to financing concerted private education. In this line, the expenditure of the educational administrations dedicated to concerted teaching has gone from 4,968 million euros in 2007 to 6,179.4 million euros in 2017, that is, 24.4% more. The autonomous communities that allocated a higher percentage of public spending to finance private centers in 2017 were: the Basque Country, the Community of Madrid and Navarra with 23.9%, 19.7% and 19.5% respectively.

According to a report by the Association of Private and Independent Schools (CICAE) and CEAPA, 90% of subsidized educational centers (336 have been analyzed) charge monthly fees and in 89% of the cases they are also mandatory, contrary to what is established in the Organic Law of the Right to Education which decrees that free education in centers supported with public funds must be guaranteed.

The research concludes that Catalonia and the Community of Madrid are the communities with the highest base quotas, with an average of 255 euros and 110.81 euros, respectively. Elena Cid, general director of CICAE, indicates that “there are centers that do not charge any fees, or that are very small, and do not really put any obstacle to families, and centers that, receiving the same funding, They require family fees that can reach 950 euros; in the end, the freedom of choice of center in these cases is only for those families that can afford a high and irregular copayment “.

The study has also detected clear cases of discrimination against students due to the fact that, on occasions, non-payment of the fee implies the exclusion of the student, since if the fee is not paid, he would not be able to attend the activities. The solution offered by some of these centers, if the family does not want or cannot pay the fee, is that they must take care of the schoolchildren during the hours in which activities are organized to which they are prohibited from accessing or “abandoning” them. in other rooms with or without teacher attention.

It should be noted that the analysis concludes that 100% of these schools offer stable complementary activities within the school day (between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.), which consequently makes it difficult for a family to choose that their child does not access to these complementary activities. These schools charge a fee for activities with basic curricular content, such as reading comprehension or mathematical calculation.

Tail of the EU

Spain is the fifth country in the European Union (EU) that invests the least in education in relation to its gross domestic product (GDP), according to data from the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat) analyzed by Servimedia. In this way, With 4.0% of GDP in 2019, the figure for Spain is only higher than that of Bulgaria (3.9%), Slovakia (4.2%), Italy (3.9%) and Romania (3.6% ). In this way, Spain occupies the 22nd position of the classification among the 27 countries of the European Union. Moreover, in this series, which begins in 1995, the country has always held some of the last positions. Thus, Spain has invested between 4.0% and 4.6% of its GDP in public spending on education in the last two decades.

The first three positions since 2014 correspond to Sweden, Denmark and Belgium, in this order, while Romania has not moved from the last place. In this regard, in 2019, Sweden spent 6.9% of GDP on education, ahead of Denmark (6.3%), Belgium (6.2%) and Estonia (6.0%). The EU average was 4.7%.

“The main problem is that since compulsory education is supposed to be free, scholarships in these stages are scarce. Education is free, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost families money. All the hidden expenses make it necessary for the administrations to create scholarships or study aids to meet these needs of the students of more primary stages, in addition to promoting book banks or other similar systems “, highlights the president of CANAE.

Spending on scholarship students is 923 euros

Of the 10.2 million students in total in the 2019/2020 academic year, 29.7% received some type of scholarship or aid to carry out their studies, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics. In this sense, on average, the cost per student with a scholarship was 923 euros, while for those who did not receive any aid it was 1,285 euros. This difference is particularly significant in Primary Education, since spending on scholarship students amounted to 492 euros, 47% less than those who did not receive it. In the case of Higher Education, the average expenditure on scholarship students was 1,536 euros, while in non-scholarship students it was 2,552 euros, 40% less.

Going back to school implies an average expenditure of 1,937 euros per child

The ‘back to school’ implies an average expenditure of 1,937 euros per child

CEAPA and CICAE denounce the lack of transparency that families have regarding the payment of fees in part of the schools c

CEAPA and CICAE denounce the lack of transparency that families have regarding the payment of fees in a part of the concerted schools


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