There are some significant differences in the way the Spanish education system works compared to other EU Members States’ education systems. In general, such differences relate more to adequate academic results and to the fact that the system is not sufficiently inclusive than to access to education.
In the challenge relating to quality education, two key indicators have been selected: one that measures the percentage of people who do not attain a high educational level and another that measures the percentage of people who give up studying after compulsory education (early school leaving). The first measures the percentage of people aged 25 to 64 who have not graduated in university or equivalent studies, and the second measures the percentage of people aged 18 to 24 who, regardless of whether they have finished lower compulsory secondary education, do not continue their studies. In the first indicator, Spain is above the European mean. In 2017, the Spanish education system managed to ensure that 35% population reached a high educational level, whereas the European mean was 31%. In the second indicator, Spain is lagging behind other European countries, with 18.3% of people leaving the education system early, which is nearly double the European mean (10.6%).
The indicators selected for the challenge of having the possibility to gain adequate knowledge that con-tributes to society’s development were mathematics competencies in secondary education and adults’ foreign language knowledge. In the first indicator, Spain is currently situated above the European mean, and it has gone up in the ranking in recent years from position 20 to 15. In the second indicator, 10% more of the population in Spain does not attain sufficient foreign language competencies compared to the European mean, and it falls within the group of countries with the worst results in foreign languages (United Kingdom, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria).
The analysis is completed by analysing the need to have an education system that is inclusive and does not segregate by social background. For that purpose, two relevant indicators have been selected: intergenerational persistence of a low educational level and school segregation by socioeconomic level. The first indicator measures the percentage of people aged 25 to 64 whose parents have a low level of studies that did not attain a higher level than their parents. Spain is situated well above the European mean, which reveals that the persistence of a low educational level is high compared to other European countries Only 1 in 2 people whose parents have a low educational level manage to attain a higher educational level than their parents, whereas 2 in 3 do so in the European mean. This result may be linked to the late generalisation of intermediate and higher studies in Spain, which can still be detected among the population aged 25 to 64. The concern is the percentage of people aged 25 to 34 with a low educational level whose parents also have a low educational level has increased in the last decade. The fact that the trend in the latter indicator is growing is a warning sign.
A recent study by Murillo and Martínez-Garrido (2018) concludes that Spain is one of the countries with the highest level of school segregation by socioeconomic level at the age of 15, with figures close to those in several eastern European countries and far from the levels of segregation in Eurozone countries. Our results, using the same sources of information as the aforementioned authors, confirm those conclusions. Spain is lagging behind other EU countries in terms of school segregation by socioeconomic level at 10% more than the European country mean in 2015. Whereas 1 in 4 students should change educational establishment so that there is no segregation, only 1 in 5 should do so in the European country mean. In 2015, Finland topped the ranking with the lowest level of segregation in the EU (17%) while Spain – with a level of segregation higher than 23% – joined Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania at the bottom of the country ranking in this need.
Within the context of a high level of segregation, it is interesting to analyse whether the main driver of segregation in Spain is the greater segregation of groups with higher or lower socioeconomic levels. In the figure, we can see that total segregation in Spain is mostly explained by the fact that students from high and low socioeconomic backgrounds are more concentrated in certain educational establishments than they are in the population, and that the most segregated of the two groups is the one comprising students from a high socioeconomic background. Taking into account the results for that group, Spain is actually the second most segregated in Europe after Hungary. However, when considering the level of segregation of the group from a low socioeconomic background, Spain is similar to France and is less segregated than Belgium.
Contents of the collection
Social needs: education
Dual Vocational Education & labour market insertion in Catalonia
Does Dual Vocational Education and Training favour the labour market incorporation of young people? Dual VET graduates work more days per year and earn more.
Private tuition and economic inequality in Spain
33% of pupils with lower economic capacity attend private tuition, in contrast with 57% of pupils with a higher profile. Differentials in participation in extracurricular activities in relation to economic capacity are greater in secondary school.
The role of schools in detecting gender violence
Sixty-eight per cent of minors who are exposed to gender violence in the home say nothing in the academic setting and teaching staff only perceive it if evident signs of violence exist. How can an effective model for the prevention of sexist violence be drawn up for primary and secondary schools?
The impact of gender-based violence on sons and daughters: the role of schools according to the pupils
Some 93% of children have heard of gender violence. Their preferential source of information is the school setting but, if faced with a situation of gender-based violence, they are unsure whether it would be the place to find help.
Call to support research projects on education and society (FS22-2B)
The aim of the call was to support social science research projects that use quantitative survey data on education and society in Spain.