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The true cost of Spanish state education

By Jo Green - Tue 22th Sep 2009

Although my daughter is a year away from even starting pre-school, I have been doing my homework and asking around for the opinions and advice of various friends as to their experiences with the whole Spanish Education system. On the whole it appears that (aside from a few insignificant and expected niggles such as “Thing’s aren’t like this in the UK...“) it seems that most people are happy, however I have noticed that since I started asking questions a couple of months ago, that just recently more and more people have a concern with the same issue.

This month it just happens to be September – the first month back to school after the lengthy school holidays and also the time of year where children move up a year or on to a new school and as such new subjects will be taught. This means that a host of new school books will be required to be bought and paid for - and it is not unusual for 2 or 3 Books to be required for each child and for each school year (Pity the Family with a host of children of school age!)

Sometimes it seems a book can cost as much as 30 Euros and in most cases the cost of buying these books for one school year alone can be around 250 to 300 Euros (per child!)

The Education Department for each Autonomous Region subsidises these costs to a degree (This is called the “Bono Libre“ and is distributed in the form of Vouchers that can be redeemed at participating Bookstores) but it rarely covers even half of the amount required – and even then, this is only applicable for Children at Primary School and not beyond.

On top of this list of books (that will be provided by the school) each individual teacher will produce a list of items required in order for the child to participate in their lessons – such as calculators and various pens etc... – You can see how it all adds up – and if it is anything like when I went to school half of these items will either get lost or go unused.

The problem is that there is never an alternative to the books required – and as such it seems that the publishers are well aware of this and hike up the prices – it is a captive market after all ! Furthermore every parent wants to provide the best possible start for their child and is put in a position where they have to buy all of these books together in a relatively short period of time to avoid their child going without and slipping behind in class.

Many of my friends and neighbours have been caught out with this situation in the past and have wisely started to put a small amount of money aside each month just to cover the bombshell that drops in September every year, and I am considering doing the same (I like to be ahead of the game!)

At nearly all Private schools the cost of the required books is covered in the overall charges for each term, so this situation only applies to state education.

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