BULLYING and violence are considered to be isolated incidents in local schools, but the Balearic education ministry will set up a series of observatories and design a plan of action to prevent conflicts in schools. The observatories will have a team of experts to provide advice on how to tackle situations of bullying and violence, and will be similar to those already in operation in Valencia. And it is not only the Balearics where they will be introduced, but in all the regions which are ruled by the conservative Partido Popular (PP).
The move was announced by Ana Pastor, the PP's secretary for social policy and welfare. She was speaking after a meeting in Palma with education ministers from the Balearics, Valencia, Castilla-Leon, Madrid, Galicia, La Rioja and Ceuta. In Valencia, the scheme has included steps such as a special telephone hotline for minors and a website providing guidance and information for both pupils and teachers. Balearic education minister Francesc Fiol stressed that the measures were to prevent or establish protocols of action in conflicts, such as students attacking teachers as happened in Pollensa last year, or more dramatic situations, such as the suicide of a 14-year-old boy in Hondarribia (Guipúzcoa), a victim of bullying. Fiol said that in the Balearics, where only minor incidents had occured, the observatory could be up and running in a matter of weeks.
The ministers were in Palma for a two day meeting during which they debated other matters such as better financing for regions which have a high number of immigrant pupils, as is the case of the Balearics and Madrid, so that they can implement integration policies. Pastor claimed that there are already 400'000 immigrant pupils in Spanish schools, but the socialist government has not yet provided funding for additional teacher training or special classrooms for pupils who do not yet have a good grasp of Spanish. Pastor also called on the central government to honour its election campaign to provide free education from the age of three to six, to introduce English classes from this age group, and make better use of new technologies in schools. And, she said, although it is up to the central government to set all these measures in motion to prevent inequalities between regions, she said that regions governed by the PP would set them in motion “in any case.”