3 min
The cost of ignorance

The pangolin permitting and thanks to the scientific community, it seems that we can begin to turn the page on this wave and probably on this pandemic. Obviously, there are still victims, nor do we have any guarantee that there will not be any more mutations or that another virus may appear that will put the human race on the ropes, but until the next crisis arrives, we can think about recovery.

This is the first weekend of joy in the streets and the good economic data should accelerate recovery plans. It has been two years and the collective trauma will make history. Our subconscious is full of deaths in solitude, curfews, masked smiles, lockdowns and fear. But paralysis is not an option in a society that does not want to live its decline. The good data on employment, lower growth than in Europe, but above the Spanish average, exports and industrial production show that society and business are in tension.

It is worth asking whether the public sector and everything that depends directly on the administration is also under stress. There are two sectors in which it is essential to make progress: health and education.

Wages and knowledge

Catalonia must get out of the trap of improving its competitiveness at the cost of low wages and must focus on improving productivity, which involves technology and access to financing, but above all knowledge, which resides in schools, universities and vocational training.

Schools will begin the 2022-2023 academic year with changes that are complicated to apply. They are necessary, but also controversial and dangerously more inclined towards complacency than towards demanding effort and results. It is excellent that young people learn by competencies and know that knowledge, if it is not connected and applied in a team, is of little use. But if teachers do not have the time or capacity to adapt school materials and do not continuously update their training, it will be difficult to achieve this.

The solution is not to lower standards. The laxity of the Celaá law does not help, which, with the aim of reducing the number of students who stay down a year, does not establish a limit on the number of subjects a student can fail and still pass a year in secondary school.

The nomenclature does not help to take the evaluation of knowledge seriously either, but rather to disguise the scandalous figures of school failure. The words "insufficient", "needs improvement" or, in other words, "not achieved" disappear in favour of an even more euphemistic "in the process of achievement".

The discourse of improving cooperation, autonomy and critical thinking of young people contrasts with the disappearance of basic knowledge and subjects that help intellectual and human formation such as philosophy.

As Gregorio Luri states in the report by Laia Vicens we publish today: "What is the point of fostering a critical spirit if they do not know how to read?" And, I add, how will young people be formed humanly in a world with wonderful access to knowledge but also dominated by the toxic frivolity of social networks? Parents will lose some of the allies at school who try to awaken in young people the curiosity and critical capacity to ask questions about themselves and the world around them. It is not so much about studying Plato as it is about approaching questions about yourself, answering them individually and being able to act consciously with those around you.

Projects and objectives

The changes are not limited to the syllabus: next year, schools will start a week earlier after summer. It is completely logical to get students into the academic routine earlier, but the Department of Education has communicated it hastily and without answering some key questions in a society stressed by work schedules that are almost impossible to reconcile.

Catalonia needs investments and demands in schools. Teachers need to be trained to adapt the curricula to the world and not to make compromises in order not to admit the scandalous school failure. At the rate we are going, for example, only the children of those who can afford it will have a decent level of English that will allow them to compete in the job market. Lowering objectives and using euphemisms to avoid pointing out what does not work is the way to perpetuate the current mistakes. Competencies, projects and also demands and objectives that form academically and humanly. And not forgetting vocational training. Failing history can make you a magnificent mechanic or an extraordinary electrician. Passing engineering without having gone through a good philosophy class and having understood it can make you a perfect idiot. That is, a university student.