From the academic year 2007-2008 to 2014-2015, the subject “Education for citizenship and human rights” was part of the general school curricula. There was strong opposition from families with children in religious schools and from the Catholic Church, with the argument that the state should not introduce a compulsory subject aimed at the moral upbringing of students. The subject, taught at the primary and secondary levels, focused on the improvement of reciprocal understanding and the promotion of tolerance. The Organic Law for the Improvement of Educational Quality (8/2013 Organic Act) replaced this subject with courses on “Social and Civic Values” and “Ethical Values” at primary level from the academic year 2014-2015 onwards.
Both subjects are an alternative to the compulsory subject of “Religion” in primary and secondary levels and are aimed at transmitting values that promote personal freedom, responsibility, democratic citizenship, solidarity, tolerance, equality, respect and justice, as well as help to overcome any kind of discrimination. The development of that Act in 2014 has detailed the contents of the basic curriculum of primary education, and the basic competences to be acquired in the compulsory secondary education and upper secondary level.
Beyond the curricular framework, there are diversity education programmes at the national and regional levels. At the national level, the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training provides web resources designed to respond to the concerns of professionals in the educational and social spheres with regard to cultural diversity and all its implications. In addition, it runs or has run other intercultural education projects, such as:
- The Portuguese Language and Culture Programme aims to maintain the linguistic and cultural reference points of the children of Portuguese workers and immigrants, as well as promoting interest and respect among Spanish pupils for other cultures. In kindergarten and primary school, the teaching of Portuguese is part of the normal curriculum, via “integrated classes” in which Portuguese and Spanish teachers teach the whole class together, or in “simultaneous classes” (in which the Portuguese teacher teaches the members of the group who have chosen to participate in the programme). Furthermore, these schools organise other complementary activities such as exchanges and study visits, cultural weeks and Portuguese Clubs. In secondary education, Portuguese is a facultative subject and is taught by Spanish teachers. The programme only runs in several Autonomous Communities (those with large numbers of Portuguese students).
- ACT– This is a European initiative funded by Erasmus+ with the participation of several bodies of the Spanish Ministry of Education. Given that the EU promotes that pedagogical approaches should focus in social, civic, relational and intercultural skills, and that the transmission of democratic and civic values should be made on the basis of the democratic participation of children, the project empowers teachers to be better prepared to transmit these values and skills.
- The International Foundation Yehudi Menuhin, cooperating with public institutions, promotes a number of programmes. For instance, the “MUS-E Programme” aims to promote the arts, especially music, song, theatre, dance and the visual arts at school, to favour the social and cultural integration of disadvantaged children, to prevent violence and racism, and to promote tolerance and harmony between different cultures.
At the regional level, where Autonomous Communities have important competences in the educational field, there are also numerous initiatives related to the intercultural focus of education, the reception of immigrant pupils, the implementation of organisational and curricular measures, linguistic and cultural support, attention to immigrant families and the training of teaching staff (for more details about regional initiatives see: https://www.mecd.gob.es/educacion/mc/convivencia-escolar/recursos/centros-atencion-diversidad.html).
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