Almost nine out of ten subsidized schools, theoretically free, charge families a fee. In 77% this contribution is not voluntary, either because the center requires it well because in the case of non-payment the student is excluded from certain essential educational activities, according to the association of private centers Cicae and the federation of associations of AMPAS of the Ceapa public school in its sixth Study of Prices of Concerted Schools.
“This is not a foundation, it is an SL”: thus the concerted forces the families to pay their fees
The situation of these payments varies greatly between autonomous communities, according to the report, which has asked under the mystery client technique – it is simulated to have an interest in enrolling a child to request information from schools – in 338 centers throughout the country. The highest prices are paid in Catalonia, where each family contributes an average of 202 euros per month. In Madrid there are 133 and in Euskadi 84. The lowest, in Galicia (32 euros per month), Aragon (36) and Andalusia (46). The most expensive fee detected in all of Spain corresponds to the St Paul’s school, in Barcelona, and reaches 930 euros per month per student. The center justifies itself by arguing that “it cannot be said that it is compulsory, but everyone pays for it. Without this contribution, St. Paul’s would not be what it is. Everything that is offered has a cost.” There are also others that do not charge anything.
Elena Cid, general director of Cicae, explained in the presentation of the report that obscurantism is the trend in the sector. “There is a great opacity in the financing of the subsidized schools, but it is surprising that all the subsidized schools receive the same financing and there is this disparity. The agreement in the educational agreement is not being fulfilled” because “there are centers that are profiting from this collusion of the administration “, affirms.
Both the private schools –which feel aggrieved by the double funding that the concerted schools receive– and the AMPAS federation –which feels doubly harmed because they have to pay the fees and at the same time resources are withdrawn from the public school– trust that the The new education law, the Lomloe, tackles this problem once and for all. The regulation establishes in its article 88 that “in no case may the concerted public or private centers receive amounts from families for receiving free education, impose on families the obligation to make contributions to foundations or associations or establish compulsory services, associated with the teachings, which require an economic contribution from the students’ families “, and instructs the administrations (the autonomous communities in this case) to control these payments.
The Lomloe specifies it more, but the gratuitousness of concerted education has been enshrined in the law since its very creation, in 1985. Leticia Cardenal, president of Ceapa, has pointed out that this control does not seem to be a question of laws, but of political will. “We do not understand that, from the Administration, it is allowed that they continue to burn us families with quotas that only serve to make some of them become rich,” he said.
Quotas lowered the course of COVID
The analysis of the evolution of the average fee in the seven communities analyzed shows that the amount dropped significantly last year, in which the centers were closed in the last quarter due to the pandemic. Aragon reduced it from 58 euros to 38, for example, Galicia fell from 63 to 48 and Madrid from 153 to 110. The report shows that schools have not recovered that fall, except in the Valencian case. In the rest of the communities, the concerted one charges a lower fee today than two courses ago, including Catalonia, which, although it did not lower its price last year, this year has.
Cicae and Ceapa denounce that the centers force families to pay the fees because they are offered in exchange for complementary activities in which those who do not pay cannot participate. And these activities, they count, are put in the middle of school hours or are curricular activities, such as fine motor skills, English, robotics, spelling or chess. “We are surprised that these activities are done during school hours”, Cardenal values, “when we as AMPAS tell us when we want to do something similar that complementary activities cannot be carried out during school hours.” “It would have to be ruled by a judge, but I think the compulsory charge for a curricular activity sustained and protected by public funds is illegal,” adds Cid.
“They are clear cases of discrimination,” says the report, which puts figures on this practice. At the national level, 15% of subsidized schools exclude students from certain activities if they do not pay the fee, but there are communities in which it is more common, such as Madrid (33% of the centers carry out this practice) or Valencia (28 %).