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Joan Fontrodona, Professor of IESE, University of Navarra

The good Education

Wed, 23 Jun 2010 10:35:43 +0000 Published in ABC (Catalonia)

I read in the press that the students who were going to take the university entrance exam exams arrived with the natural concern for the unknown and left laughing out loud at how easy the tests had been. So easy that one of the examiners even described them as frivolous. It's raining on the rain, because a few weeks ago, the same feeling was felt by the sixth grade students when they faced the assessment tests at the end of that educational stage.

As we know: the law is made, the trap is made. How bad do we look in the rankings of the level of Education in the country? Simple: make the exams easier and the grade average will go up. Let's get ready to see headlines in the coming days talking about the improvement in the level educational of Spanish students. Of course, let's hope that other countries are more serious than us, and do not let themselves be carried away by these cosmetic solutions. If they do, we will end up in an inflationary escalation of grades, as in fact seems to be perceived already in the grades given by schools. As a university professor reasoned: "Why am I going to complicate my life by failing students, having to give explanations and having to correct more exams? C general, and life will fail them".

Just in these same days it is announced that the Pact for the Education proposed by the Ministry is going down the drain. The political parties are unable to agree on agreement what a quality Education should consist of. At least in Catalonia we have taken a step further, and it has been possible to approve a sufficiently consensual law. Of course, here the Minister of Education goes on strike every month. It must not be easy to keep everyone unhappy. The last one: the Government decides to equate the teachers of the concerted school with the civil servants and to apply to them the same salary cut. This way we kill two birds with one stone: we save some costs and we suffocate a little more the charter school.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a roundtable at the Col.legi de Llicenciats de Catalunya to talk about what values need to be recovered to successfully face the economic recovery. From the business world, the need for values that recognize the culture of effort, the work well done, the solidarity vision and the work teamwork was claimed. The world educational recognized the successive impoverishment that the different laws of Education have had on the training of the students, the loss of authority in the classrooms, the individualism and passivity of young people. The gap between what society expects from future generations and how they are being formed seems to be widening day by day.

It is always said that sustainability is about leaving a better world for future generations. Perhaps the first step would be to make them better themselves, to give them a good Education, a sustainable Education . And this does not seem to be the case. The political parties are still engrossed in their quarrels and interests; the rulers, more concerned with not losing control of Education than with the quality of the same; and society is astonished and stunned by the embarrassing spectacle and the lamentable results. Of course, let's give them easy exams so that they go home happy and we can have a quiet vacation. And meanwhile, another lost year.