Xenophobe's® Guides: How Spanish social systems work
Systems are not expected to run to plan in Spain, and if they do, it is a surprise and a bonus.
Xenophobe's® Guides: A book series that highlights the unique character and behaviour of different nations with insight and humour.
As a rule, systems are not expected to work in Spain. If a train runs on time it is a surprise and a bonus. If a plumber turns up when he said he would, it is astonishing. When systems do work, however, the public are not particularly co-operative.
Such attitudes extend to the general education in Spain, which is run on similar lines to the French, that is the lycée – but with a difference. A French child will be severely reprimanded if he or she is late for school, or does not do the huge amounts of homework with which their satchels are laden every evening. If a Spanish child is late for school, which he usually is, he may still be in the classroom before the teacher.
In a television documentary on education a boy of 12 was interviewed about his daily routine and school discipline. He started explaining his day with ‘I usually get to school at 9 ... or 9.30 ...'. The interviewer made no comment. It was acceptable and normal.
Children go to kindergarten from the age of one to three, pre-school from three to five, and start the lycée at six. They go through eight grades until the age of 14 when they choose either go on to the formación profesional, which amounts to a training for various basic trades, or to the institute, where they work their way up to the selectividad, the final school examination and thus to university in one of the major cities.
But whether you studied in Barcelona, Córdoba, Granada, Salamanca or Seville is not important, for what will matter in the end is the influence your parents or their friends can wield on those who decide whether or not you are employable.
For more, read The Xenophobe's Guide to the Spanish.
Reproduced from Xenophobe's Guide to the Spanish by kind permission of Xenophobe's® Guides.
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