Foreign pupils outnumber Spanish in country’s schools
15 September 2004
MADRID – Foreign students outnumber native ones for the first time in Spanish schools, it was reported Wednesday.
In provinces such as Murcia, in southeastern Spain, five of every seven new public-school students are foreigners and nearly 60 percent of these are children of Latin American immigrants.
The remainder come from North Africa and Eastern Europe.
Vanessa Rodriguez, a seven-year-old Colombian attending school since last year in the Madrid suburb of Valdemoro, told EFE she was eager to return to class to see her friends.
Vanessa is one of more than 100,000 foreign students enrolled at Madrid area schools.
Although 11 new schools have opened across the city, more are needed to meet current demand.
As a result, some 3,000 students will attend classes in 164 pre-fabricated classrooms set up to alleviate overcrowding.
At more than 20 schools, students will also have to deal with class sizes exceeding the limit of 25 recommended by law.
The presence of foreign students also entails problems of assimilation that teachers address with novel approaches.
In the region of Madrid, “transitional classrooms” have been set up to help non-Spanish speaking students and others who may have fallen behind.
In Cantabria, in northern Spain, an intercultural commission is being formed to help foreign and minority students assimilate to their new classroom experience.
Language barriers can pose special problems for foreign children living in regions of Spain where some classes are taught in languages other than Spanish, such as Catalonia, the Basque Region and Galicia.
Those regions have created special linguistic and cultural programs to help foreign children adapt to the different educational systems.
Some immigrant families, as well as Spaniards, also struggle to buy books and other scholastic materials at the start of the new school year.
Gabriela and Maria, Ecuadorian immigrants living in Madrid, spent the weekend buying their children’s school books, which they said “represented a heavy financial burden” they can’t always cope with.
On average, each child needs between about EUR 800 to buy uniforms, books and materials at the start of the school year.
Lunch and transportation entail additional expenses that challenge immigrants struggling to build a better life.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news