NURSERY schools in Malaga opened up yesterday to welcome another year’s intake of more than 15,000 children under the age of three.
Nine out of every 10 children will be receiving some kind of financial support on behalf of the Ministry of Education, with discounts on nursery school starting at 25 per cent off the price.
What is worth noting is that 40 per cent of these new schoolchildren will be eligible to receive a full grant for their place at nurseries that would normally charge monthly fees of around €278 to full-paying customers.
This means that the families of 6,340 children starting nursery this week are in enough economic difficulty to warrant a full grant: a figure which has grown from last year, despite the fact that student numbers have fallen.
Patricia Alba, Education representative for the Junta de Andalucía (regional government), opened the school year yesterday by appearing at a nursery in Malaga. She said that this type of financial support and grants illustrated how the Junta showed its backing for this stage in a child’s education.
Demand is not in short supply, however, as of the 18,676 public nursery school places on offer, 2,825 have not been filled.
Not everyone is happy with the current situation. José Francisco Bracho, president of Acade (Asociación de Centros Autónomos de Enseñanza Privada – Association of Independent Centres of Private Teaching), has criticised the Junta for poor distribution of the nursery places.
By not allowing for new places to be made available in private nurseries over the past two years, families have not been able to get their children into their first choice of nursery.
He said: “In many cases the Junta has encouraged private centres to enlarge their facilities to cater for the high demand of nursery places in certain neighbourhoods.
“After going through all this effort and expense, the businesses have been left high and dry, whilst the Junta only focuses on increasing capacity in public nurseries.”
Back in the classroom meanwhile, this week will undoubtedly see many tears and tantrums as toddlers and children face up to their first few days at nursery school.