Sunday, September 19

Shout for joy at going to school: 160 children in Melilla start the year after years of struggle to get to school

Marwan is four years old and wakes up earlier than usual. This Thursday is your first day of class and you don’t want to be late. He carries on his back a new backpack, with his first brand-new notebook and a case full of colors, while his mother accompanies him by the hand, also nervous, because a new future opens up before him, as do the doors of his first school.

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He doesn’t know, but he is “lucky” because he has “only” missed a year of early childhood education. “They have been years of struggle to ensure that hundreds of children like my son can go to school in Melilla,” says Asisa, his mother, who began to participate in the protests before the Provincial Directorate of Education in the autonomous city more than five years ago. years to support the schooling of his nephew and that of hundreds of minors who saw their right to go to school restricted.

Last Monday, the Provincial Directorate of Education published the definitive list of admitted and, to the surprise of all the affected families, the 160 boys and girls who were initially rejected for “lack of documentation” were listed as accepted in different public schools in the city . Among them, Marwan. “When I saw his name on the list, I couldn’t hold back the tears. When I got home from work and told him I was going to school, he kept screaming with joy. I wondered if I would buy him colors and how many friends he would have,” he explains Asisa excited.

“On Monday we did not stop sending messages by WhatsApp, calling us congratulating us because all the effort had been worth it”, tells José Palazón, president of the Association for Children’s Rights (Prodein). The fight for the schooling of these children comes from afar. This human rights activist has been at the foot of the canyon for the last decade so that the Administration would fulfill a basic right such as the education of minors.

The root of discrimination

All these boys and girls share a certain profile. Born in Melilla, they belong to vulnerable families that, for the most part, survive from the underground economy with precarious jobs without a contract or registration with Social Security due to the irregular situation of their parents. Some of the parents are also from Melilla, of Moroccan descent, who never managed to regularize their documentation. Asisa arrived in Melilla as a newborn and now, at 35 years of age and with no ties to her country of birth, she continues to try to regularize her papers, a problem that will leave Marwan an inheritance if she does not succeed and that, in fact, has already affected their schooling.

“To enroll my child in a public educational center in Melilla, the child and the family must be registered in the city, but to register they must have a residence permit and to have this residence permit they must previously have the register. the whiting that bites its tail, “sighs Asisa.

Last year the Ministry of Education added a second provision in order to provide those affected with an alternative for schooling outside of the register and residence: “It may be proven through a certificate issued by social services or that other document agreed by competent bodies in admission of students “, read the guideline. However, Asisa says, she presented numerous bills for her home in her name, inherited from her deceased father, and they were never recognized as proof of roots in the city.

For his part, the provincial director of the Ministry of Education in Melilla, Juan Ángel Berbel, denies that it is a discriminatory measure and points out that the cases that were rejected in their day did not comply with the provisions determined by the Ministry, hence they were not admitted then. Berbel emphasizes that they have been admitted on this occasion because all the documentation provided did comply with current regulations. In addition, he adds that throughout the course he hopes to admit other cases that remain paralyzed until they provide all the necessary documents, since the extraordinary schooling period extends during the academic year.

The fighting continues

“It is not understood that a country like Spain leaves children without going to school”, criticizes Palazón, who regrets the loss of opportunities that the lack of access to education implies for the three generations of adolescents who in these last three years have not been able to enroll. “Not only have they wasted the time of hundreds of families, but they have destroyed the lives of many young people who have not been allowed access to education. What happens now with the adolescents who in these three years have been serving the majority Of age? They can no longer enroll in Compulsory Education or access other types of studies without this certificate, “he complains.

The president of Prodein criticizes that the only opportunity to train for these people are the courses offered by some NGOs: “They are courses of doubtful utility for these young people because they are not regulated, but they do allow certain NGOs close to the Ministry to get a succulent grant. They always lose the same. ”

From this entity they will continue to be vigilant for the rights of minors for the next course. Asisa also: “We have managed to educate all these children now, but next year we will have to fight for those under three who are in the same situation and are going to start in Early Childhood Education. The fight does not end here.”

The affected families have the support of numerous organizations that have raised their voices this past year against this discrimination. The director of the Childhood Platform, Ricardo Ibarra, recalled earlier this year that the right to Education “is a fundamental right, contained in article 27 of the Spanish Constitution and in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. “. Ibarra emphasizes that “this right implies the obligation of the Spanish State to educate every boy or girl residing in Spanish territory, guaranteeing a school place, without being questioned under any circumstances or limited by administrative or documentary problems of their families.”

The Foreign Lawyers Association is another entity that has been fighting for these minors since the beginning. José Luis Rodríguez, a member of this organization, recalls that claiming the register and residence for schooling is illegal because “Article 9 of the Immigration Law guarantees the schooling of minors regardless of the administrative situation.” The Ombudsman himself, Francisco Fernández Marugán, has issued numerous reports in the last three years urging the Ministry to educate these minors, to which are added the resolutions issued by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

For Palazón, it is paradoxical that the current socialist government in the autonomous city and in the central Executive have followed in the wake of its predecessor, the Popular Party. “The worst of all is that each of those responsible has not admitted their guilt and are still hooked on their chairs, charging their own,” he adds.

The PP, led in Melilla by Juan José Imbroda, now in opposition in the Melilla Assembly, has always shown its rejection against the schooling of these boys and girls, omitting international resolutions and Spanish legislation itself. According to the popular, their schooling contributes to a pull effect that can lead to Moroccanization “ of the autonomous city and end its Spanishness.

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