Friday, July 23, 2010

A short sighted move

When cuts in budgets have to be made then EPA (adult Education) classes are a more or less certain target. That would be such a shame because Bigastro has made a lot of progress in providing classes for adults over the last ten years. Adult education not only enriches people’s lives, it enables them to contribute more to the society in which they live.

This year there were about a hundred students in the various classes: Graduado Escolar, access to Bachiller qualifications, university entrance for the over 25s, alphabetization and new readers classes for those who left school early and of course our Spanish for foreigners class.

However, providing this excellent service does not come cheap. The cost for this last year to the town was about 60,000 Euros.

To help meet this expense, Bigastro receives a subsidy from the Valencian Autonomous Government. Last year the subsidy amounted to 21,650.36 Euros. For next year the subsidy has been reduced to 15,275.77 Euros which represents just 25% of the potential bill that Bigastro faces.

We know that Bigastro, like many Spanish towns, is cash strapped so that may mean that some of the classes have to be cut either altogether or in the number of hours provided. Since courses that lead to qualifications provide more tangible added value, that may mean that e.g. our Spanish class will have to be cut.

I sincerely hope not because, for Pam and I and the others in the class, learning Spanish is of immeasurable importance. I would argue that being able to communicate effectively has allowed us to contribute to the town that looks after us so well. It is only by improving our linguistic skills that we have we been able to integrate properly with bigastrense.

I know that our mayor and the town council will fight hard to get this subsidy increased. I notice that It is one of the key items on the agenda for the next council meeting. I hope the council are successful for the sake of all the students involved.

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