SPAIN’S largest trade union protested the growing gender inequality stemming from precarious working contracts for teaching assistants, 90 per cent of whom are women.
The demonstration was held outside Almeria’s education department yesterday (Tuesday) and demanded authorities employ assistants on full time contracts.
The majority of assistants are employed on part-time and flexible contracts leaving them to struggle on ‘sustenance-level’ unemployment benefits during the summer months, according to the CCOO union.
Teaching assistants work directly with students, especially those who need extra support, to help them keep up with classwork the teacher sets.
In addition, assistants often have to travel considerable distances from their homes, covering the transport costs themselves.
The union blames the Andalucia government’s hiring policy for reportedly increasing the gender wage gap in the public administration sector and education in particular.
Protesters demanded the government stop the “punishment” of teaching assistants by providing contracts which secure not only their present, but also their future.
Ex-president Mariano Rajoy’s government made continuous cuts to education as part of ‘excellence in education’ strategy.
The only schools to receive an increase in funding were the so-called ‘concertados.’
These fee-paying schools – which have more administrational freedoms than public schools – saw a 6.5 per cent increase during the worst period of the crisis, media reports.
Prioritising the top-students at the expense of the masses is a narrow strategy, according to top Murcia student, Francisco Tomas y Valiente.
He demanded “less excellence and more educational quality” and said students who overcome hardship like family problems or learning difficulties are especially excellent.
A total of 20 per cent of Spanish students do not complete secondary school, the second worst rate in Europe, Francisco highlighted.
This proves the prevailing strategy damages educational quality, he said, wondering whether Pedro Sanchez’s new Socialist Party government would take a different approach.