Why Spain is the OECD country with the most repeaters in secondary school: the experts speak

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The OECD dixit. Spain is the country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development with the highest number of students who have repeated a year in the THAT. Specifically, a 8.7% of students of this secondary cycle have not passed their course, with respect to 1,9% of the average of 32 countries that make up the international institution. Something similar happens in high school, whose data are not flattering. Here, the failure rate is 7,9% of the students, in front of the 2,9% of the average in 2019. Single Czech Republic surpasses Spain in repeating high school graduates. Therefore, EL ESPAÑOL has spoken with professionals in the education sector to explain the reasons why Spain lead these infamous rankings.

Spain It is a country in which there is no debate about education, but about educational ideology. The methodology to teach does not change, that is, it is not based on giving students skills, but on giving them knowledge for exams, which they later forget. Therefore, we have high school failure rates and school dropout. In addition, we have an educational system that is measured by what we offer to students and not by what the student learns and apprehends, that is, what he internalizes. It is something that should make us all ashamed ”, he explains to EL ESPAÑOL, very critical, Enrique Castillejo (Córdoba, 1971), president of the General Council of Official Associations of Pedagogues and Psychopedagogues of Spain.

In other words, this professional education argues that if a student of the THAT only study the authors of Literature, for example, to pass them in an exam, next year will be forgotten. This affects the generation, little by little, a deficit in student training that in the end it can end in school failure, the expression of which is the repetition of the grade. Drop by drop, many of our students have deficiencies in their training “because we don’t train them in competitions”. “On SpainWe have the culture that the more material we give to the kids, the better. Maybe it would be good not to give so much, but that it is well established ”, he adds. Castillejo.

A group of ESO students in a class.

A group of ESO students in a class.


Despite this, the expert not only considers this to be the cause behind this country being the one with the most repeaters in the OECD, but also that we have a “bankrupt educational system”. For instance, Castillejo says that, at present, “many teachers do not know how to face the teaching of the XXI century because nobody has taught them to do it and that is allowed in this country. Many, and they recognize it, lack endowment in pedagogy”.

High ratios, low attention

The teachersHowever, they also feel tied hand and foot in the face of a reality that they have been denouncing for a long time. “From my perspective, which is from the classroom, there are several important factors that can explain the high percentages of repeaters in secondary school students. One of them is the ratio. Having so many students per classroom influences the way students teachers we can give a attention more personalized to those students who have more difficulties. As the ratios are so high, many times we cannot give each student the attention they need ”, he begins. Borja Delgado, teacher of Biology and geology at IES Africa, on Fuenlabrada, Madrid.

This reality, which is especially appreciated in the public education, is something that the teachers of high school. Alberto Sanchez (Madrid, 1989) complains about the high ratios of students per classroom. In other words, “we can have between 30 and 38 students per classroom in high school. That, obviously, influences that we can give a more individualized attention and slows down the teaching process. Also, we can’t give them the time they need. If they were 15 students per classroom, the attention to the student would be more effective ”, he says.

Borja Delgado, professor of Biology and Geology at the IES Africa, in Fuenlabrada, Madrid.

Borja Delgado, professor of Biology and Geology at the IES Africa, in Fuenlabrada, Madrid.


In fact, the professor Delgado adds, in this sense, that in the past year, the 2020-2021, “We have appreciated that the number of repeaters has been lowered.” The reason? “Because the sanitary circumstances derived from the pandemic caused the ratios of the students to be lower ”, which has generated that there has been a attention to the students, within what is possible, something more personalized. The lesson to be drawn from this circumstance is that more investment is needed in the education to, at least, save this stumbling block.

“It seems that in this country the education as something fundamental. Therefore, spending on it would not be an expense, but a investment Of future. On Spain little and bad investment is made. I am not saying that they pour huge quantities, but that there has to be a spending in sustainable education. For example, investing in a greater number of professionals decreases the ratio. That would positively influence the students. We should also rethink the resumes which are very extensive and immeasurable for many students who need more attention and deepen the content ”, reflects the teacher Delgado.

Enrique Castillejo, pedagogue, goes a step further and sentences: “In Spain education is not the least bit interested ”. For him and other professionals in the sector, this issue has become a throwing weapon between the parties and their ideologies. “Our system is interrupted every so often with new legislation. No education law changes the problems structural, as the teaching methodology. Vary contents and something, but it’s like beating around the bush. Besides, another thing that influences school failure is that there is a uneven legislative development in each autonomous community. Each one applies the norm as they consider and that generates inequalities among the students ”, argues the pedagogue.

More repeaters boys than girls

As if that were not enough, on many occasions the differences between the repeater rates not only has to do with the territorial scope, there are also differences in the number of repeaters of high school depending on the gender of students. According to the study of the OECD posted this Thursday, a 60% of students who has repeated a year in 2019 in ESO or Baccalaureate are males. They make up the rest. But, what is this circumstance due to?

Alberto Colomo, a secondary school teacher in Madrid.

Alberto Colomo, a secondary school teacher in Madrid.


Alberto Sanchez, teacher of high school, which is very careful with the data offered because “it would be necessary to study well how the sample was taken”, considers that the social roles they may have something to do with the higher rate of male repeaters. “There are social relationships that are reproduced in our classrooms. In this case, the males with poorer results tend to behave more disruptivos and to face the academic field and, girls, due to a greater tendency to accept the rules and to respect more the regulatory framework, it may be that center more in academics. In any case, it is an analysis broad brush, since other circumstances such as socioeconomic contexts have to be analyzed ”, he analyzes Alberto.

The social issues, in this case, it also influences the teacher Borja Delgado, since her experience has conveyed to her that “girls adapt better to the organization and development model that occurs in educational centers today.” All this can also be framed, of course, in something purely biological, since the girls they mature before the boys, who at the ages of high school perhaps they do not consider it essential to attend in class, for example.

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