25% of students with disabilities between the ages of 6 and 15 say they have been discriminated against at some point in their school life, according to the disability survey published by the National Institute of Statistics (INE).
This phenomenon has managed to sneak into Spanish classrooms and permeate among students, families and teachers. Educational centers are no strangers to this problem , moreover, they are a faithful copy of what happens in society, since if there is discrimination on the streets, there is also discrimination at school. Children and young people can be rejected based on their skin color, place of origin, religion, gender, economic position or because they have some type of disability.
The most serious consequence of this problem is the Premature Educational Abandonment (AEP) of which Spain is, unfortunately, the leader of the EU. This not only has an impact on the development of boys and girls, but on the country as a whole.
Save the children calculates that the cost of the AEP ranges between 5.9% and 10% of GDP . This school disengagement is a failure for the educational system, reducing AEP rates ensures that more children can be cognitively, behaviorally and emotionally associated in their education.
Types of discrimination
One of the most frequent types of school segregation is due to the economic level of the students. Spain is among the OECD countries with the greatest discrimination in education for socioeconomic reasons, especially in primary school students.
An example of this is the results obtained by students of low socioeconomic status, which is 90 points lower in the mathematics tests of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) compared to schoolchildren of a higher economic level. Consequently, those children who come from this sector are less likely to be able to complete their studies.
Another type of school discrimination is suffered mainly by migrant and refugee students, as shown by the difference in points in the PISA test between native and immigrant students, which is 52 points, while in the OECD as a whole that same difference is as only 34 .
This is how education becomes one more obstacle that migrant children must face so that they can access a quality educational system. Many come to be left without this universal right, which is a fundamental tool for their integration into society and within the new country where they now live.
The population of foreign origin is an essential part of the country. In this context , experts affirm that for integration policies to be truly effective, they must cease to be “for migrants.” And become public and universalist based on the intercultural management of diversity, in this way it will be possible to counteract the effects of educational inequality , which in many cases is added to that of poverty and precariousness.
Children with disabilities are also victims of this phenomenon and it is one of the most frequent types of exclusion in the Spanish educational system. Currently, 4.3 million people say they have some kind of disability, 14% more than in 2008 , according to INE data.
The UN states that although the official figures reflect a high percentage of students with disabilities enrolled in the ordinary system, it also underlines that exclusion occurs within it, which affects the learning of children with disabilities.
According to Save the Children in one of its latest studies “For an educational system that leaves no one behind” the discrimination of students with disabilities in Spain is institutionalized and normalized. On several occasions, teachers do not have the specific training to deal with children with disabilities and this factor, according to the report, can reduce the participation of students with disabilities in the classroom, leaving them unable to fully integrate, many times it can be subtle, but it is still exclusion.
On several occasions, schools even expel students due to lack of resources, becoming a huge consequence for their learning and integration , according to data from the Save the Children report.
Exclusion by gender also occurs in education and particularly affects women . For this reason, it is important to consider how feminine and masculine identities are constructed in schools and colleges , especially how gender issues are integrated into the school curriculum.
Currently, the exclusion figures for women in certain sectors continue to be very negative. In Spain, for example, girls enrolled in STEM degrees (for the acronym in English for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) represent less than 30% , while in Teaching they represent 75% of the student body, according to data published by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training.
This type ofdiscrimination has negative consequences in the future of women and this results in less female presence in the academic environment, to the point that there is only one woman professor for every four men; and only 10 of the 50 public universities are led by female rectors. On the other hand, Carmen Montraveta, director of the UAM Gender Equality Unit, points out that:
“In this area in particular, we have gone from 15.45% of female professors in the 2008-2009 academic year, the first in the that we collected data systematically, at 26.4% in the 2020-2021 academic year, the last one analyzed. However, these average data hide a horizontal segregation”. Finally, students need to have an educational system of public policies thatbe equitable and not egalitarian , so that there is no inequality in the origin of the students.