The knock-on effect of free P2 leaves 20% of children in Barcelona without a place

The knock-on effect of free P2 leaves 20% of children in Barcelona without a place

Nursery schools in the province of Barcelona have not been able to serve all the families who have wanted to enroll their 2-year-old son (P2) due to a lack of public spaces. The Barcelona Provincial Council estimates that two out of every ten minors have been left out due to insufficient supply.

“The speech of the free P2 announced by the Minister Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray last April has caused an increase of 20% in the demand for places that could not be assumed because the service at this stage is not universal” and “for the families, the culprits have been the city councils, which are the ones that have the schools,” said the deputy for Education of the Barcelona Provincial Council, Josep Monràs, who presented the report Circle of inter-municipal comparison of municipal bressol schools .

Monràs maintains that this educational stage should be universal, as is the case from P3, which is not compulsory but all children are guaranteed a place. But for this, more resources are needed and a greater commitment on the part of the Generalitat to finance the cost of schooling these students.

The municipalities assure that they end up financing 70% of the cost and not the 30% established by the Government

Now there is the possibility of increasing the places with the arrival of 111 million euros from Europe, a finalist item from the NextGeneration EU funds, aimed at opening new P2 public places. The Generalitat has not defined the distribution plan for these funds. Other autonomies have added P2 to infant and primary schools, such as the Basque Country, which already had this model.

In Catalonia the bressol schools public are municipal ( 90%). The mayors fear that the new places, probably open in their centers, suppose an unaffordable increase in costs since they consider that the Generalitat does not adequately finance this educational stage and the deficit must be compensated by the coffers of the municipality. The more places, the greater the deficit.

To this is added the increase in the costs of energy, materials and the financing of educational attention personnel that have increased in this course due to a greater detection of disorders or situations of social vulnerability. And that does not appear in the initial calculation of the cost of the public square.

The Minister Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray announced in April that from this course parents would stop paying the cost of the P2 place in order to encourage the most vulnerable families and guarantee early education for children that benefits their educational success future. Thus, the Generalitat assumes two thirds of the cost, its participation and that of the families. According to the announcement, the municipalities had to cover the remaining third.

However, it set the price of the place at 5,893 euros, more than a thousand euros below the calculations of the Provincial Council, which collects data from 493 nursery schools out of the 926 existing in Catalonia. And for 17 years she has been preparing a specific comparative study of nursery schools.

The city councils already complained then, when the price of the place was set, because the cost did not include key expenses for a school conceived as a European model, with a reception service, dining room and educational attention personnel (psychologists, speech therapists, caregivers and others).

Nor are the costs of building maintenance, cleaning or utility costs (water, gas, electricity) included, which have risen sharply in recent months due to the war in Ukraine.

“The cost of a place per student in the 2020-2021 academic year has stood at 6,974 euros and will increase in this academic year due to the price of energy by a few thousand euros more, up to close to 8,000 euros,” explained Monràs. The deputy transferred that the city councils pay, with his calculations, 70% of the square.

“The transfer of the Generalitat of 1,600 euros per year per child is insufficient and they are drowning the municipalities. Education must, with the data we have, sit down with the city councils that do not want to confront but reach an agreement”, said Monràs, who recalled that the Ministry promised to create a monitoring commission before December 23, 2022 to assess specific cases. .

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