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Rubalcaba gives first speech on education

Source: El Pais - Tue 21st Jun 2011

Spain's Deputy Prime Minister, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, has given his first official speech as the nominated candidate to lead the PSOE party into the general election next year.

He spoke in Valladolid on Sunday to address the subject of education , where he proposed the introduction of an examination and internship period for schoolteachers based on a similar system used in the medical profession. Under such a scheme, education graduates opting for a teaching position at a state school would have to first sit a national examination and then complete an internship period in the classroom.

In the same way, the Medical Profession puts graduates through an examination, and then depending on the grade, candidates select a specialization and a center where they will complete their training . Upon successful completion of the internship, the student can then take up a position at a public hospital.

Rubalcaba, who was himself both a teacher and minister for education, said he would address poor school results by targeting primary education. "It is important to make the education system flexible," he said, going on to speak of the importance of retraining school drop-outs who have returned to the classroom, flooding the vocational training system.

One solution, he said, would be to encourage distance education. Reducing drop-out rates, he said, is "vital" because not doing so can lead to "social exclusion" for youngsters who left school to take advantage of the jobs to be had during the real estate boom, and now find themselves uneducated and unemployed.

Rubalcaba first hinted of these plans back in November, but at that time stressed that they were merely issues that he was contemplating. Now that he is the party candidate to run in elections due next March, it looks like being a topic that will find its way onto the manifesto.

The Deputy PM emphasised that education was the first item on his agenda because it is the key to getting the country out of the crisis that it currently finds itself in. Over the last ten years, the number of school-leavers not taking further education has been around 30%, which experts say is dragging the economy down.

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