Parents, teachers and Nerja town hall held the first of a planned programme of protests to demand that the Andalusian regional government increase the number of support staff ahead of the next academic year, when at least a dozen children under the age of three with additional educational needs will be enrolled in the town’s schools.
According to Mari Carmen Manzano, the head teacher at Joaquín Herrera public school, said that these children have been distributed between the town’s schools, most of them being assigned to those which already have additional needs assistants, "overloading them even more, to an unsustainable limit".
Five children are due to start at Nueva Nerja primary school, where there are already seven pupils who require additional support. The director of studies at the school school, Carmen Rodríguez, has pointed out that this is an "excessive" number to be able to offer "quality" educational attention to the children, "with a class of three year olds in which they intend to place five children with special educational needs".
“This is detrimental to the rest of the pupils, because they cannot be properly attended to," said Belén Baena, a member of the school’s parent-teacher association. "The Junta does not see the reality of the centres, we have been fighting for many years to improve the quality of teaching and to provide more human resources", she added.
The families affected are "outraged", and have said that they will continue to protest and collect signatures on petitions. More than 200 signatures have already been collected so far.
Alberto Ariza and Sara Urdiales, parents of one of the children who will start the school year in September with a special educational needs say, "His sister is at Narixa school and as there is no assistant there, they are forcing us to enrol him in the Nueva Nerja school, so they need to tell us how they expect us to be able to take them both and pick them up.”
Nerja’s councillor for education, Gema Laguna, supports the demands of parents and teachers. "We have drawn up a proposal which will be approved by the town hall and ratified at the next plenary session, to ask the Junta de Andalucía’s education delegation to immediately solve this problem. It affects the children with the greatest needs. More resources are needed, this is our fight and we will continue in this line of support," she said.
Sources from the Junta’s education delegation have told SUR, "At the moment we are in a planning period. Once the enrolment process has been completed, the schools will be provided with sufficient resources to meet the needs for the next academic year 2022/23.”