Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Spain announces a “national Erasmus” to “foster territorial cohesion”


Madrid (CNA).- The Spanish Minister for Health, Social Services and Equality, Dolors Montserrat, announced this Tuesday “a new programme aimed at students between 14 and 18 years” so they can study the last two years of high school and the two pre-university years in “another Spanish city different from their own”. The goal, she explained, is “to promote territorial cohesion and encourage mobility of students”. “It's a good way to promote awareness of our cultural diversity, our traditions and our languages”, she added. “Spain is a country that is worth knowing and we have to give this opportunity to our young people”, Montserrat stated. This “National Erasmus”, to be called the Cervantes Programme, is similar to Seneca scholarships, a mobility project for university students that was ended by the Spanish Government in 2013.

During her appearance before the Health Commission of the Spanish Parliament, Montserrat said that just as Erasmus “has done much to build and unite Europe”, this “national Erasmus” is a “good thing” because it will allow students “to adapt to new surroundings, new experiences and meet new cultures”, she added.

According to the Spanish Minister, her Ministry will promote the programme “jointly with the Ministry for Education”. This national Erasmus implies that young people will be accepted into schools of other Spanish regions and will be accommodated by families participating in the exchange.

The programme will be named Cervantes, in commemoration of the fourth centenary of the death of the writer, and seeks “to foster territorial cohesion”. “I think this experience can be very useful to build a generation of young people more enterprising, emancipated, supportive and with a more global vision of Spain and the world”, Montserrat stated.

The details of the budget to be devoted to the programme and the monetary value of the grants remain unknown. In 2013, the Spanish Government brought to an end a similar national mobility programme for university students, Seneca scholarships. In the last edition there were 2,050 beneficiaries who received €500 per month and between €120 and €200 for travel expenses.

Catalan pupils score above Spain, EU and OECD average in PISA tests

The latest PISA survey published in December by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), revealed that the academic performance of Catalan pupils is above the Spanish and EU average. They scored better in the three PISA tests on science and technology, maths and reading comprehension. According to the report, the average mark for Catalan students in reading and maths is 500 points and 504 for science. In contrast, the average for Spain, the EU and the OECD is not 500 points or over for any of the tests. The Catalan Minister for Education, Meritxell Ruiz, stated that these figures prove that the educational reforms in Catalonia are “heading in the right direction”. Furthermore, she praised the “stability and consensus” that the reforms have aroused among the educational community and the political forces. This is the first time that Catalan pupils have scored above 500 points in the three exams.

The PISA tests have been performed every three years since 2000. The last survey tested in May 2015 a total of 537,000 15-year-old students from around the world. More than 18,000 schools in 72 countries and regions in the developed world participated in the survey. In Spain the test was taken by over 37,000 students in 980 schools, of which 1,769 students and 52 schools were Catalan.

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  • Students of the High School Lluís Vives in Barcelona doing a test (by ACN)