If I may, I would like to take up Shirley Roberts's, who I had the pleasure in meeting at the Calvia walk a few weeks ago, invitation to discuss the Catalan/Castellano “problem” in local education. Reading between the lines, I get the impression that she is not as enthralled about the system as she was some time ago, but is resigned to the fact that it can't and won't be changed in the near future. My opinion is that never, would possibly be a more correct guesstimation.

I don't want to discuss the pros and cons about education in Catalan, as, being a foreigner, many readers could be of the opinion that it has nothing to do with me. But being a foreigner who pays personal and business taxes here, I think it should do, as, as most people will agree, education is an investment in the future of any country or region. So, if the latest statistics are to be believed, the Balearics do not have much of a future, as not only are they rock bottom in the Spanish leagues but also in the european ones as well. Many could argue that education, being mostly in Catalan may have something to do with this, but that is for the experts, whoever they may be, to decide and act upon. Mrs Roberts states that an alternative to being taught in Catalan would be an “expensive” private education. The following numbers may be of a surprise to her and also to others. The local government invests or spends € 7.400 a year per pupil of our money, I repeat, our money, in the public sector. They invest around € 2.800 per annum per pupil in the private subsidised schools, similar to our old English grammer schools. The average cost per pupil per annum in a totally private school can be anything between € 2.800 and € 3.500 per annum. So why is the public education so expensive and of so low a quality, whilst the semi private and private ones are cheaper and of a far higher level? Simple answer, beaurocracy and politics. It is a known fact that the approximately 17.000 public (government) school teachers are nearly all left wing nationalists who will not accept any change in their status quo, even if standards are dropping year after year. It may also be due to the fact that the average ratio of pupils per teacher in the public sector is around 8 and in the private sector 12, which is an added expense. So whilst huge amounts of our tax money is being spent, or some would say, wasted, in organising this fiasco, private and semi private schools do it themselves far more efficiently and cheaply, even after paying the extortionate employee social costs, something that local government do not pay or pay a highly reduced rate, again, subsidised by the tax payer.

So, if improving education standards means that lessons should be taught in Castellano and anyone who wants to speak, read and write Mallorquin should do it at home or pick it up on a day by day basis, like I did, then so be it. You pay taxes as well Shirley.

Yours sincerely, Simon Tow

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