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Accueil > Espagne > Statut juridique des religions > Dispositions spécifiques > Ecole > Les centres d’enseignement confessionnels

Les centres d’enseignement confessionnels

Considerable controversy has continued to trail this issue, right from the preliminary debates, to the passing of the major education laws and the relevant provisions in the Cooperation Agreements with the different faiths.
In an attempt to resolve the problems, the Constitutional Act was couched in uncontroversial wording and the potentially contentious aspects were deferred to the ordinary law, so as not to raise the spectre of religious war.
The legislative development is the result of two laws which reveal within the constitutional framework, the influence of the political situation. The first law, the Ley orgánica de libertad religiosaof 5 July 1980 was passed under the centre-right Government while the second, the Ley Orgánica del Derecho à la Educación of 3 July 1985 (supplemented in 1990), would be the most controversial law of the years spanning 1975 to 1985.
The 1980 Act encourages the creation and funding of private – and especially religious – educational establishments. The Episcopacy hailed the new legislation, saying that it was consistent in its interpretation of religious freedom and the Spanish socio-religious situation. Other faith groups are currently unable to benefit from this development since there are no agreements to this effect.
In real terms, this law does not end the religious education war. The Left is opposed to the law and Felipe Gonzaléz has stated that it would be abolished should the PSOE come to power.
The LODE of 1985 is therefore the major education law in post-Francoist Spain. It only covers basic education which is free and compulsory. This law aims primarily at bringing the different schools together into one joint system, in order to fulfil the principle of the right of all to this free basic education.
It follows that there is a desire to judiciously plan the funding and accreditation of educational establishments financed from public coffers. In reality, even while they must compete with public schools in providing free and compulsory education, private establishments face certain restrictions when it comes to being recognised and funded by the State and many fear the inability to cover their costs.
There are two opposing sides in the debate concerning this legislation - the Left, for whom Government is ultimately responsible for the quality of the compulsory education, and the Right which believes that parents, then schools, have the right and responsibilities when it comes to educating children. This debate is essentially similar to the one that exists in other Western countries.
The LODE will be challenged on the grounds of unconstitutionality under proceedings instituted by the Grupo Popular (which later became Aznar’s Partido Popular). The Group had requested during parliamentary debates that the law be included under the general obligation bond for education, should the educational centres meet set requirements. This unconstitutionality motion, based as it is on the different aspects of the respect of the right to free choice, has been rejected.
Yet again, for the minority religions, with no agreements having been signed, the possibility of opening new centres is not currently being envisaged.
Apart from the normative laws which apply constitutional principles, the conditions for the existence of religious training centres are also governed by the Acuerdo sobre Enseñanza y Asuntos Culturales of 3 January 1979 with the Holy–See for the Roman Catholic Church, and cooperation agreements with the three major minority religions. In these agreements, the State provides guarantee for each of the four religions to open educational centres and obtain funding to do this.
It can be said therefore that the agreements are an expression of the State’s willingness to respect the freedom of teaching and free choice in this area, while it asserts its monopoly and control.
What can be said briefly, of the current situation of the private and public sectors ? Note that in 1976, a change occurred which saw public education gaining the advantage even though the sector lacked sufficient staff and schools (this being largely due to the closing down of non-religious establishments).
Today, the private schools in Spain are Roman Catholic establishments. There are no Muslim or Protestant schools and only two Jewish schools exist.
There is significant Roman Catholic participation in primary and secondary education, although to a lower degree compared to State participation (ratio of 1:3). A significant and noteworthy development is the steady increase, since 1978, in the number of lay teachers in Catholic schools. This is an indication that the Catholic teaching corps is advancing in age, with no new teachers to take their place.
Mention must be made of the existence, although few, of very high quality Catholic higher learning institutions, which bear testimony to its glorious past.
Finally, a significant difference that must be highlighted appears in the interpretation of the laws revolving around the respect for standards and values. The 1979 agreement with the Holy-See states that education delivered in the centres must respect Christian (meaning clearly Roman Catholic) ethics and values. The three convenios clearly state the right of pupils to receive instruction on their faith, including within private (and therefore Catholic) schools on the condition that this right does not conflict with the school’s character. In 2002, a student had to be withdrawn from a Catholic School that required that she remove the tchador (different from the headscarf) she wanted to keep on, and be transferred to a public school. This is some food for thought indeed.

13 septembre 2012