Learn Spanish. Spanish system of education in Andorra for free
The presence of a Spanish educational system in Andorra has been found in various sources of history about the country, which from the moment of its implementation, along with the opening of the first confessional schools in 1882 and first high society schools in 1930, played an important role with the French educational system in creation and forming the national educational system of Andorra.
Legal status of these Spanish schools is regulated by Educational Spanish-Andorra Convention, which was signed in Madrid on January 11th, 1993.
Regulations on the new Agreement between Government of Andorra Principality and Government of Spain Kingdom in education system (2007) states that the Spanish State general system in Andorra, which has a number centers equivalent to the quantity of students, corresponds to the development of education over the last few years and affirms, free Spanish state education.
Currently in Spain there are four levels of education: preschool, basic – Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO), bachilerato – El Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP) and higher education – La Enseñanza Universitaria.
For example, the Escuela Espanola de Escaldes-Engordany is a part of a municipal general education institution of Spain, controlled by the Ministry for Education. Therefore, educational programs in schools located in Andorra are absolutely identical to any school in Spain. Spanish schools exist in the capitals of France, Great Britain, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Italy and Portugal. Unlike the schools in Andorra, available for all the citizens and residents of Spain and Andorra, the schools of the abovementioned countries are only for the children of Spanish citizens, working and living on their territory. All Spanish state schools are free (although this doesn’t include the price of school books).
The teachers working in the Andorran Spanish schools have diplomas from Spanish pedagogical universities. Their contracts with schools in Andorra do not exceed 6 years – as per regulations, established by the Ministry for Education of Spain. Due to personnel rotation, Spanish teachers can come back to Andorra after every other six year period of teaching they do outside the country. Thus, the culture and traditions of the Spanish educational system are kept viable.
The schools in Andorra establish the goal to expand the culture of the Spanish language, increasing its popularity beyond the borders of Spain. The number of teachers with diplomas from the University of Andorra is limited (the quota is 1-2 teachers): they teach only Catalan (the official language of Andorra) and the culture of Andorra.
Discipline at Spanish schools in Andorra is of great importance. There are strict rules regarding behaviour that should be followed by every pupil.
After six years of study, pupils move up to the second stage of formal education – secondary schools (lasting 4 years). The beginning of the second stage of education is called bachilerato (includes two courses). This level is free only at public institutions. During the first year of study in bachilerato pupils may choose certain course of study: humanities, hard sciences or technology. To graduate from bachilerato students are only allowed to re-sit one test from the final exam (Selectividad), which gives the right to continue their studies at a higher education institution. The final exam at bachilerato is equivalent to an entrance exam to a higher education institution. Consequently, the higher the score obtained at the final exam, the greater the chance to enter the university.
Spanish schools in Andorra have got two levels of education: primary education for children aged 3 to 6 (currently there are only 59 children) and basic school education for pupils aged 6 to 12 (the total is 110 children). Interestingly, pre-schoolers are also provided with textbooks and workbooks. Before going on holiday, pupils undergo a final assessment in accordance with a 3 grade scale (A4 sized document, on three pages). It estimates the kid’s academic progress and behavior in accordance with the following criteria: work in team and self learning skills, courtesy towards other pupils and teachers, sociability, creativity, ingenuity, activity of the child, and ability to play on their own, etc. In other words, such assessment evidently demonstrates a complete picture for parents about their child’s development and communication skills.
Basic Education (EGB) following the Spanish curriculum is strictly compulsory and includes eight core subjects.
As explained by the director of Escuela Espanola de Escaldes-Engordany, during their first years children study subjects such as native language (Spanish), literature, mathematics, scientific disciplines (natural sciences, history, sociology), music, art and sport. One of the advantages of the Spanish educational program in Andorra is the early introduction to foreign languages: Catalan and English. Children begin to study foreign languages from the age of 4.
Education in bachilerato is also available on the territory of Andorra, although in another school – «La Margineda» (pupils 12-18 years old). However, at the end of this course, pupils are encouraged to select a Spanish university (the University of Andorra does not have a wide selection of faculties). The most prestigious universities in Spain are located in the capital, Madrid, and student city, Salamanca. Furthermore, in Barcelona, there is also quite a large variety of higher education institutions. According to official data, there are 47 state and 10 private institutions of higher education in Spain. University education is fee-paying.
It is worth mentioning that there are four official languages in Spain: Spanish (Español or Castellano), Galician or Galego (one of the official languages of Portugal), Basque language Euskara – the only surviving Proto-Indo-European language (native speakers are the residents of Northern Spain and Southwestern France), and finally, the Catalan Català (south of Spain and Andorra).
Lessons in Andorran Spanish schools start on September 9th and end on June 27th. At the same time there are plenty of scheduled holidays: Halloween from October 28th to November 1st (Todos los Santos), Christmas and the New Year holidays from December 23rd to June 6th (Navidad), holidays that coincide with Carnival from March 3rd-7th (Carnaval ) and the longest – Easter holidays from April 17th to May 2nd (Pascua). In addition, there are several days off in Andorra: Constitution Day (March 14th), Labor Day (May 1st) and the Day of the Holy Trinity (Pentecosta, this year will be celebrated on June 9th). The major national holiday – the Day of Andorra is celebrated on September 8th, the day before the academic year begins. Catholic Christmas of Holy Mother of God is also celebrated on the same day, and Our Lady of Meritxell – who is a national shrine in Andorra.