One unexpected consequence of the current economic crisis is that more teenagers are staying on at school. Until now, Spain has had one of the EU’s highest school drop-out rates but youngsters are beginning to realise that the more qualifications they have, the better the chance of finding a job. The unemployment figure for October – 2,818,026 – was the highest since April 1996 and some gloom-and-doom merchants predict it could top the four-million mark by the end of next year.
Retirement beginning to bore you? Liven up you life by going back to school at the U3A – University for the Third Age – in Fuengirola. Registration is now open at the Ark Christian Fellowship Hall, Las Rampas, from 11 am to 1 pm, on September 30th and October 2nd and 3rd. You can also register on Enrolment Day on October 6th. Courses range from Scrabble, Poetry, Health and Your Body, Computer Improvers Workshop, Spanish for Beginners, Patchwork, and Golden Age of Spain, just a few of the 40 courses on offer. One novelty this year is a series of talks on the Spanish Civil War, to be given by Muriel Pilkington from the Town Crier. Membership of the U3A costs 25 pounds and entitles members to participate in as many groups as they wish. More details are available on U3A’s website: http://www.u3acostadelsol.org.
The case of the St Javier’s International Nursery in Marbella, whose owner was recently arrested for running it illegally in unsafe and unhealthy conditions, has led the authorities to take a closer look at other international schools in the area. A local newspaper reported last Saturday that there are at least 12 international schools are operating in Malaga province, mainly in Mijas, Marbella and Estepona, without permission from the local authorities. They are generally nurseries but some teach up to the bachillerato level. The owner of St Javier’s, a 40-year-old Spanish woman, had been running the school for 12 years without the regional educational authorities knowing about it. Police said that, among other things, she had not been paying social security or respecting the rights of the workers.
Figures show that the Basque regional government has spent €126 million euros so far this year – 4% more than last year – on promoting the Basque language when only 11.5% of the population speak it as their first language. The number of Basque speakers rose slightly between 2001 and 2006 but according to the company that carried out the survey, the Basque government’s determination to impose the use of Basque in all government offices, hospitals and other public buildings, has created a rejection effect. A company spokesman said people are studying the language because they are being forced to do so, but they don’t use it. Another problem is that there are several dialects which the Basque regional government has merged into one known as Batua, and many of the older people don’t understand it. The spokesman said: “You can’t go against the fact that we already have a communication tool, which is Spanish, a language that we all speak.”
Members of the Alberto Diaz de la Quintana theatre company in Malaga have come up with a novel way to encourage people, especially the young, to read more. This summer they will be visiting the city’s beaches dressed up as characters out of well known books. They are currently masquerading as Captain Nemo and Neptune to get people to read Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. Actress Sandra Segura said: “You’d be surprised at the number of kids who take a book with them to the beach.” People who can show the actors a book will get a small gift. Julia Luque, who coordinates the project, said: “The idea is to award readers and encourage the rest of the public to read on the beach.”
The Junta de Andalucia’s Education Department announced last week that 80 new bilingual centres will come into operation across the region this coming academic year. In Malaga province, 16 primary and secondary schools will take part in the new bilingual education scheme, the so-called Plurilinguistic Development Plan, which will benefit some 40,000 students. Another 115 bilingual centres will join the plan the following academic year. English has been chosen by 70 of the centres, but seven have opted for French and three for German.