Although Spanish legislation obliges everyone under the age of 16 to attend school, around 260 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 16 will not be able to begin their studies in a regulated manner at the beginning of this year in Ceuta. These are the teenagers who came to the city during the diplomatic crisis with Morocco. While the rest of the kids their age, also the unaccompanied foreign minors who had arrived in the city previously, will attend the standardized classes -with language support if required-, for most of those who arrived in May the plan is different. The activated formula, based on Spanish classes and an “individualized accompaniment”, has been questioned by experts in childhood.
Ceuta’s challenge: welcoming more than 1,000 migrant minors in the face of their unlikely return to Morocco
For these minors, the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training will set up “linguistic immersion” classrooms in Spanish to provide “educational attention” to the around 260 unaccompanied Moroccan migrant minors who are of compulsory school age above Primary . The spaces and shifts will be different from those of the rest of the students. The Education plan involves creating groups of 15 students to teach boys between the ages of 12 and 16 four hours a day of class, in the evening, of Spanish, values and social relations with a staff of 22 teachers and an intervention specialist sociocommunity by institute.
“It is a good sign that the Government is concerned about complying with the Law and respecting the rights of Children, also those of children who arrive alone, but according to our laws and international treaties, all children under 16 should attend school. , with a special itinerary of linguistic reinforcement and evaluation of its level, but within the formal education system “, says Lourdes Reyzabal, president of the Raíces Foundation. From the Childhood Platform of Spain, Carles López considers that the Ministry cannot offer these minors a “partial right” to education with the excuse of overflowing local student-group ratios and the lack of school infrastructures.
“We must bear in mind that Spain has the obligation to assure these children their full right to education in accordance with our legislation and international standards and that Ceuta, according to the reports of the State School Council, does not have the capacities or resources to educate them. with normality, reason why the best thing would be to assure it through a distribution by autonomies agreed in Sectorial Conference “, thinks the president of the Platform.
Less than a month after the Government delegate in Ceuta assured that she was “optimistic” because, she said, she hoped not to have to “worry” in September about the Moroccan children who arrived during the migration crisis, staff from the Ministry of Education have been displaced this week to the city to visit the five institutes where children between 12 and 16 years old will be attended in the evening, under a strategy labeled “sectarian” by sources close to the autonomous child protection service.
As explained by Education to elDiario.es, only thirteen sheltered migrant children are less than 12 years old. They will be educated with all those of the law once their level of knowledge of the vehicular language and the skills acquired in the neighboring country have been individually evaluated. The same sources do not close the door that, gradually, some of the minors between 12 and 16 years of age can go on to regulated schooling, although the lack of school places in a city of 20 square kilometers such as Ceuta, they complicate, they recognize. For adolescents between 16 and 17 years of age, about 500, the creation of “modular classrooms” is being considered in the facilities where they are accommodated in order to guide them towards Vocational Training programs offered directly or indirectly by the Ministry in which it has already been managed to enroll at least two dozen boys and girls.
“Very high” number of students
From the department headed by Pilar Alegría, they defend that Moroccan minors between 12 and 16 years old have not been schooled in a regulated manner due to the “very high number” they represent for an educational system like Ceuta, which has pushed them “to adopt extraordinary measures.” The minors arrived in the autonomous city three months ago, but the Government’s intention focused on the return of these kids, whose first attempt has been thwarted by the courts for violating the Aliens Law. The central government has committed to the local government to reinforce the necessary means to find “a way” to return them in compliance with the legislation.
Expulsion continues to be, according to the city’s Education Councilor, the objective. “They are going to be temporary resources, because the ultimate goal is the repatriation and family reunification of the minors. While a series of spaces, classrooms and groups are going to be enabled for their schooling with a prior evaluation by the Ministry to know their level and their needs “, explained Carlos Rontomé, Minister of Education of the autonomous city.
The central and local governments also justify the decision given the risk of collapsing the city’s high school classrooms, which, with an average ratio of 30 students per class, are among the most saturated in the country. Another of the factors that discard, for the moment, the regulated schooling of the majority of Moroccan kids who arrived in May is the rejection of a part of Ceuta residents to join the teaching activity under conditions of equality.
The system for other migrant minors
The reason highlighted by the Government Delegation in Ceuta to justify the lack of schooling of children between 12 and 16 years old differs from that provided by the portfolio of Pilar Alegría. The Government Delegation argues that the establishment of differentiated spaces and shifts with respect to the rest of the students is due to the “specific characteristics” presented by unaccompanied migrant minors who arrived in May, “such as the lack of roots” which, they say, “They impede their ordinary schooling in educational centers.” However, foreign children who arrive alone in Spain of schooling age usually go to school with the rest of the students and follow standardized classes, with the support of Spanish classes where appropriate.
The “educational care” plan developed between Education and the regional government collides with the “successful” experiences developed in recent years by the Minors’ Area with foreign children under their care, sources close to the service defend.
This will be the first time that the Ministry of Education is directly involved in facilitating the landing of unaccompanied young foreigners in the city’s educational system, the only one together with Melilla in which it retains direct powers. Until now it was exclusively the local administration that, through an agreement with the NGO Digmun, offered Spanish classes “for between 3 and 6 months” to migrant adolescents arriving in Ceuta “while the determination tests were carried out. age, their vaccination was updated and their school skills were analyzed “as a step prior to their schooling in a college or institute.
They ask to bet on the transfer to the peninsula
“On the one hand, it is very good that the schooling of children who arrived in Ceuta in May is addressed, where there are not enough resources to do it in conditions, but still understanding that it is a unique situation what the Ministry of Education would have to do parallel to the transfer of minors to other autonomous communities is to conceive these Spanish classrooms as a bridge towards their integration into ordinary classrooms, that cannot be the definitive solution “, says the director of Incidence and Policy of Save The Children, Catalina Perazzo, despite the fact that the local Executive has rejected the possibility of requesting, even temporarily, the distribution of children with other regions.
“The Sectorial Conference should reach an agreement to truly ensure the right to Education, which cannot only go through training courses or other alternatives. The problem is not segregation, but also that these children should have the right to education. Complete education, it cannot be understood in a partial way, which only includes the Spanish language, “insists Carles López.
“It is not debatable that Spain has this obligation, so the solution involves a coordinated response from the different public administrations that makes it possible,” he points out. From his point of view it is evident that “for our educational system in national terms it is no problem to educate 600 or 800 boys because the right to education cannot be limited to Spanish courses”, which also supports the distribution of minors by other communities, a path promoted by the Ministry of Social Rights, which works to promote a stable mechanism for the distribution of minors to apply in times of crisis.
While waiting for the Ministry to specify all the details of the educational attention that it will give to Moroccan unaccompanied minors, the UNICEF child protection officer in Ceuta, Laura Bondendörder, warns that the administration must start from the fact that “migrant children they have the same right to education as any Spanish child “, although it assumes that” you have to be pragmatic “and take into account the lack of resources and infrastructure in the city.
“It seems very important to us that the Ministry has committed the activation of language immersion classrooms and other care programs even in the afternoons if it is impossible to welcome all students at the same time,” says Bondendörder, who is more concerned than “At the political level, we continue to speak only of returns anticipating the result of the evaluations of the best interests of the minor that must be carried out and that can conclude with resolutions that support them or that advise their permanence in Spain or their family reunification in another country.”