Thursday, January 27

Village teachers against depopulation: “This is not deserved or recognized as it should”

Maestros de Pueblo is a non-profit association that was founded eight years ago with the main objective of defending education and rural teachers. It is a constant struggle to achieve the well-being of citizens in the rural areas of the Sierra de Alcaraz, one of the unpopulated areas where the least accent is placed in Spain. For two years this association has been linked to the organization of the “Empty Spain” by its ideals: “As a result of some educational sessions that we did last year in February we established more direct contact with the coordinator, since she has been with the coordinator for many years. the struggle that unites us ”, explains Caridad González, president of the Association.

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The Alcaraz area has suffered depopulation for many years. Caridad indicates that in these days a rough study was made of 18 towns in the region in which it was perceived that the population loss added up to a total of 1,000 inhabitants in these municipalities. “A heartbreaking figure. Specifically in Alcaraz from 2015 to 2019 we lost 140 inhabitants at once. If numbers are made, this municipality would have 32 years to live ”, he adds.

It highlights that with the policies of María Dolores de Cospedal, around 100 rural schools were closed and that at the moment when the political color changed, 20 of them were recovered, but “we continue to fight for this loss since it was a hard blow for the peoples.” . The figure of the rural teacher as a catalyst and transmitter of the culture of a people is very important. so “it causes me pain that it is lost, because the cradle of education is in the villages.”

Adhered to the “Empty Spain”

In Castilla-La Mancha, the five provinces have citizen movements that seek to confront the depopulation process in rural areas. The organization around the “Empty Spain” has more than 160 platforms and associations from 28 provinces adhered to this movement. “We all agree on the threat of depopulation along with other points such as road communications, the Internet or the loss of services,” says Caridad.

The III National Assembly of the “Empty Spain” was held in Priego (Cuenca) on September 18, where the problems that continue to drag on were put on the table. Currently there is a territorial imbalance at the national level that affects 72% of Spain and 25% of the population. An assembly that discussed proposals, measures and actions to effectively reverse depopulation. “A fairly broad dossier that is divided into working groups”, with proposals to address different issues against depopulation in all its areas such as education , health, technology, the environment or the elimination of architectural barriers.

“We feel like we are not heard in the villages and that laws such as Sustainable Development are not being followed.” The problem of vocational training in these rural areas of the region is that “we have a deficit when it comes to training our young people in institutes.

Specifically, in Alcaraz a training classroom was not granted due to lack of a student because they are applying the same conditions for the number of students as those in a city. This program and others such as ‘Pro Plus’ or ‘Titulas’ are those that are developed through the Community Board of Castilla-La Mancha to avoid school failure, so these municipalities cannot benefit due to a lack of students.

“The training of our young people is not corrected in the villages. This is a cascade because it drags families to move so that their sons and daughters can train ”, he emphasizes. One of the objectives of the assembly was to make professional training possible in rural areas.

In addition, from this organization they demand territorial balance with the ´Plan 100-30-30´ in the “I stop for my people”. “Every first weekend in October there is a mobilization to remember the cause. “This means that we demand from the Government 100 symmetrical MB of Internet access, 30 kilometers to a highway and 30 minutes to travel to basic services.” Some measures to settle population from the field of well-being.

Roaming Plugin Recovery

It was already announced by the president of Castilla-La Mancha, Emiliano García-Page a few days ago that itinerant teachers would recover all of the compensation for travel. A very important measure that had already been demanded to fight the depopulation of rural areas since the Cospedal Government removed it almost ten years ago. It will be from the next school year when teachers recover the entire fuel payment for their trips.

From the association Maestro de Pueblo they see it as a good measure because it helps and compensates when it comes to moving, although they point out that the filming of the car is on their own. “But this is not deserved or recognized as it should,” says Caridad.

Go to the elections?

During the celebration of the III National Assembly of “Empty Spain” the initiative to create an “instrument of participation” to attend the Elections was considered. An idea that goes back to when the citizen movement of ´Teruel Existe´ appeared in the last elections and got a presence in Congress and the Senate, in this way they have representation to put on the table the problems they are fighting for.

Many platforms with the same ideas support this ´organization of Empty Spain´. This is the case of the Teachers of People association who claim and share the same problems. “As we are not going to support them, we continue in the fight and the defense of the citizens, so they have our support,” says Caridad.

Education in rural areas in pandemic

The health crisis forced education to stop in person in educational centers to develop online. In rural areas it had negative consequences since, as Caridad points out, there was a lack of coverage, power outages, even a lack of training and information.

“We had to download a platform with the families to be able to teach some tasks. Then the Ministry put another platform to meet the school council, but we had to put our own tools to communicate “, concludes Caridad González.

The Spanish geography constantly fights for depopulation and associations such as ‘Teachers of the People’ continue to be immersed in this great struggle to achieve that one day this situation changes.