School run of 438 kilometres saves town

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Alcóntar offered appealing incentive to keep school open.

26 March 2008

ALCONTAR - María Aparecida from Brazil and her husband got up early yesterday to take a 438-kilometre taxi ride from their home in Antequera, Málaga, to Alcóntar in Almería. The incentive was an offer by Alcóntar's town hall to provide a home, work and a EUR 3,000 grant to families who sent their child to the local school to study at the pre-Baccalaureate ESO level.

Alcóntar had been warned by regional education authorities that its school would lose the 12- to 16-year-old section unless the minimum of five pupils were enrolled. Before the bonus scheme was introduced, only one child had requested a place, but now thanks to the response by parents such as María, the minimum quota has been fulfilled.

"No family would want to live in the village if their kids had to travel 40 kilometres by bus every day," explained the town mayor.

[Copyright El Pais / J. MARTÍN ARROYO 2008]

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