There is a high dropout rate among Balearic secondary school pupils. | Archive

Surveys frequently indicate that the Balearics ranks among the bottom four regions of Spain in terms of public education performance. To those surveys, notably that of PISA (programme for international student assessment), comes a new and rather different one, and it is more alarming than anything that PISA has revealed.

ProyectoScopio is a broad analysis that looks at education and also employment, emancipation (being independent/living away from home), health, and information and communications technology. Under the auspices of the Reina Sofia Centre for Adolescence and Youth (part of the Foundation for Help Against Drug Addiction), the survey compares Balearic teenagers with all other Spanish regions and with all European Union countries.

The education element is the most concerning. The analysis shows that the Balearics is at the bottom of the pile, and criteria of undertaking higher education, of school dropout rates and exam failures, and of foreign-language learning place the Balearics at the bottom. Even more concerning is just how far behind the next poorest region (Castile-La Mancha) the Balearics is. The index of educational performance has an average of 0.57 (out of one). The Balearics rates 0.18; Castile La Mancha is 0.30. In terms of the differences in values between all the regions and countries in the index, this is by far the greatest. (Lithuania tops the index with 0.85.)

Reaction from educationalists, unions and parents' associations has common themes. There is a pressing need to improve professional/vocational education. There needs to be more investment in education and greater stability in the educational system. The Balearic education minister, Marti March, has not commented.

Spain as a whole lags behind, though its index rating of 0.52 is above that of the UK (0.51), Germany (0.50) and Italy (0.47).

On employment, the Balearics does very much better. Unemployment of 16 to 30 year olds is the lowest in Spain (30%), but the analysis draws into question the nature of the employment: much of it temporary. There is a link with education in this regard. The high school dropout rate is often attributed to the comparative ease with which jobs can be found in the tourism sector, but these are typically only seasonal.