Saturday, November 07, 2009

The cost of learning

Aurelio Murcia, for the opposition party in Bigastro, complained yesterday that students from the adult school (EPA) are being asked to pay 200 Euros for their courses. He claims these are the highest fees being charged in Alicante province and cannot understand why they are necessary.

According to the PP spokesman, Bigastro receives an annual subsidy of 21,650 Euros from the Valencian Autonomous Government for adult education. Add to that 20,000 Euros from rates gives a total budget for classes of 41,650  Euros. Murcia goes on to say that the cost of running the service is 36,000 Euros which means that it makes a profit of over 5,000 Euros annually.

It has to be pointed out that pensioners and those on benefits only pay up to 30 Euros for their courses. This does leave 60 students though who have to find 200 Euros on top of which they will also have to pay examination fees.

When I taught evening classes in Liverpool and on the Wirral, the system was much tighter. Students had to enrol for classes before they started and pay their fees upfront.  Those who were claiming exemption had to prove their eligibility in some way. Anyone joining a class late, had to visit the principal first, pay their fees and get a receipt – they couldn’t just walk into a class.

Here in Bigastro it is different. Our teacher is expected to collect the receipts from the students to show they have paid. With new students arriving almost weekly, this is an impossible situation for her.

As far as I am aware, on our Spanish for Foreigners course, there are only a handful of us that have paid so far. Although most will pay, I suspect that some will brazen it out and will either pay reluctantly or will drop out of the course.   

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