Palma/Madrid.—With more than 15 percent of pupils in its classrooms coming from overseas, the Balearics is the region of the country with the second highest percentage of foreign schoolchildren in the country, the National Teacher Training Institute said yesterday.

The Institute was revealing details of its annual report for the 2010-2011 academic year in which researchers made a comparison with the 2000-2001 academic year, when foreign children in the Balearics made up just 4.07 percent of the pupil headcount.

The number of foreign children in Balearic classrooms comes second only to the region of La Rioja where foreigners account for 16.5 percent of the school register. The figure for the Balearics is well above the national average for foreign pupils in schools which during the 2010-2011 academic year stood at 9.53 percent of the total. The national percentage figure of foreign students is in fact declining after it reached its highest of 9.81 percent in the 2008-2009 academic year. In absolute terms, the number of foreign children in Spanish schools climbed a further 0.75 percent during the 2010-2011 academic year to a total of 7'763'573. The Institute claimed yesterday: “The number of foreign students in Spanish schools has not changed radically from the previous year. After a sharp rise a decade ago, numbers have levelled out.” The Institute said that where there is a notable increase is in the number of nursery school children of foreign origin - 3.3 percent more in the 2010-2011 academic year than the previous one; but 3.9 percent less in primary school numbers.

What remains uneven, however, is the spread of percentage of foreigners in the classroom over the regions of the country. Whereas 16.5 percent of schoolchildren in La Rioja are foreign, the percentage in Extremadura is just 3.39 percent, five times less.