Education, we have a problem!
OBESSU Case Study:
HIDDEN COSTS IN EDUCATION
Written by: Lise Paaskesen
For: Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU)
Author: Lise Paaskesen Graphic designer: Mgr. MatĂşĹĄ Macej
With the support from the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union.
ISSN: 2014 Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions
Note of appreciation Many school students participated in this research and I owe my thanks to all of them. Without them the issue of hidden costs in education would go unnoticed, leaving education as unequal and exclusive in its nature as it is right now.
School students and school student unions in Europe are the leading force of OBESSU and their demands are the backbone of the lobby OBESSU does to improve the quality of our education systems. Keep doing the great work you do!
Executive Summary This report is based on responses to a questionnaire and participatory research conducted with (secondary) school students and school student activists from twelve European countries. These school students and school student activists brought to light the hidden costs of education and its effects on school students in their respective country. The research was conducted from the right’s perspective – the right to education and the right to participation. The burden of hidden costs affects the school student in a direct way, often leading to the school student being pushed out and excluded from education, violating their right to education. Furthermore, the research outcomes show that school students feel that their right to participation – their right to be involved in planning and implementing policies, affecting them – is not respected. Hidden costs in education may be difficult to measure, but its effects on the school students are considerable.
Table of Content List of figures.............................................................................................................8 List of boxes...............................................................................................................8 What is OBESSU? .....................................................................................................9 Background to the research.............................................................................. 10 Methodology .......................................................................................................... 11 What are hidden costs of education?............................................................. 14 Measuring hidden costs of education............................................................ 15 School materials...................................................................................................................15 Transport ................................................................................................................................15 Student counseling and remedial courses.................................................................16 Other types of hidden costs .............................................................................................16 School student’s right to education ............................................................... 20 National legislation for the protection of the rights of school students.........21 School student’s rights to participation........................................................ 24 Are rights being respected? .............................................................................. 25 Respecting the right to education.................................................................................26 Respecting the right to participation..........................................................................26 Violating rights to education............................................................................ 27 Taking action.......................................................................................................... 31 Final note................................................................................................................. 32 Reference and right’s reading list .................................................................. 34 Annex one: research outcomes........................................................................ 35 Annex two: measuring hidden costs of education..................................... 41
List of figures Figure 1: Respondents by gender
Figure 3: Respondents by type of school
Figure 2: Demography of respondents by age
List of boxes Box one: New hidden costs in Italian public schools
Box three: Spanish education in crisis!
Box two: (Un)equal chances
What is OBESSU? The Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU) is a European platform for co-operation between national school student unions active in general secondary education and vocational education and training. OBESSU was founded in Dublin, Ireland in 1975. Today, OBESSU has more than 20 member organisations in 20 European countries.
OBESSU is a key role player in the European education policies and is the only organisation at the European level representing school students in secondary education. OBESSU works with the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council of Europe, as well as with many other stakeholders in the field of education. OBESSU is a member of the European Youth Forum and the European Civil Society Platform for Lifelong Learning (EUCIS-LLL).
As a long-term stakeholder at the European level, OBESSU knows that hidden costs in education may prevent school students from finishing their secondary education. However, until now, OBESSU has been unable to put a finger on how much hidden costs constitute and how they affect school students in different countries in Europe. We therefore decided to look closer on this issue and an analysis of this is compiled in this report. OBESSU and its partners may use this report in their political work at the European level. The report is also available for OBESSU Member, Candidate and Affiliate organisations, to support the daily work of European school student unions.
Background In October 2013 OBESSU launched a campaign on social inclusion in education entitled ‘Education, we have a problem!’ The campaign tackled the problems in social inclusion such as; sexual orientation and gender norms, accessible educational environments for all, both concerning physical space and teaching methods, immigration, languages and religion in school environments, unequal reputation of different educational paths and the issue of cost of education.
OBESSU believes education should always be free and no school students should ever be denied education due to their social background. Every European school student should have the same, equal access to quality education. Hidden costs in education is a problem since costs that are not outspoken and clear cannot be measured and tackled in the same way as for instance tuition fees. Because of the nature of hidden costs it is also harder to directly say how much school students are affected by hidden costs. Linked to this argument and parallel to the OBESSU campaignthis report was made.
The focus of the research was on hidden costs in education and aimed at gaining an understanding of how hidden costs affect students in secondary education, including general secondary education, vocational education and training, business schools, public and private education (students of which are referred to as school students throughout this research report). In line with OBESSU’s framework and that of its members, the rights perspective drove this research.
Main conclusions drawn from the data collected during the report are fivefold. These include: • School students and their parents bear the biggest burden of hidden costs in education. • The consequences of hidden costs in education may exclude school students from education, which is a violation of their rights. • Such exclusion violates school students’ rights to education. • School students feel that they are not given adequate opportunities to be a part of the policy planning and the implementation of policies regarding their education.
• Lack of opportunities to play a role in policy planning and implementation is a violation of school students’ right to participation.
Methodology At the launch of the research a questionnaire was sent to OBESSU Member organisations in eight countries. These were Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Romania, Slovenia and Spain. In total, ten OBESSU members from the above-mentioned eight countries participated in distributing the questionnaire to their individual school student members. Answers given to the questionnaire are compiled in Annex one. 162 responses were recorded in total, which will represent 100% throughout this report. The bulk of this report is based on these responses. Out of all responses (as shown in Figure one), 0.6% identifies as other, 56.8% as female and 38.8% as male. Respondents are between 12 and 37 years old, though most respondents are between the ages of 16 and 18. Figure two shows the demography of respondents by age.
Male  Female  Other 
Figure 1: Respondents by gender The majority of respondents (43.2%) are in general secondary education. 5.5% are in vocational education and training and the minority of respondents (1.8%) are in business school. Most (38.8%) reported to be in public education, whereas 3% said they are in private education. 5.5% said they are in another type of education. See in Figure three a pie chart showing responses by type of school.
Figure 2: Demography of respondents by age
General Secondary  Vocational Education  Business school  Private Education  Public Education  Other 
Figure 3: Respondents by type of schoolMale   The second stage of the research wasFemale conducted at the OBESSU Training Course for International Officers (TCIO), which took place in Brussels, Other  Belgium in December 2013. Every OBESSU Member organisation but one had at least one representative at the event. On the evening of December 9th, research corners were introduced, at which participants could share their views and provide their inputs on the topic of this report in a participatory fashion.
As research was conducted during the TCIO, multiple respondents from countries not included in the first stage of the research, were also included. These countries were Italy, Lithuania, Serbia and Switzerland. Throughout this report, some examples of participating countries will be included as a way of showing best practices and of how inclusion of school students can be facilitated by actions undertaken by school student unions.
It is important to note that this report does not represent all school studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; views as contexts and school studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; situations vary across the continent of Europe. Rather, this report provides a general overview of the topic, with reference to some specific cases. To protect the privacy and identities of school students and school student activists who participated in this research, no names or school student unions will be specified.
Only their country in which they go to school will be referenced. This excludes case studies where names and student unions are specified. For these, special consent was given. These case studies do not reflect the views and opinions of OBESSU, but are independent written articles.
What are hidden costs in education? Hidden costs in education are all costs related to school, which are not included in tuition fees. Research shows that school students find school materials the most expensive, transport to and from school second most expensive and school and study trips are ranked as the third most expensive cost. Other hidden costs may include school lunches, student counseling, remedial courses, extra materials needed for class (such as photo copies), school uniforms, school parties, school lunches, contributions to the school fund, contests and matriculation exams. The latter are University entry exams. A school student from Romania added presents for teachers, which she said is considered mandatory.
Out of all the respondents to the questionnaire, roughly one third said that school students themselves carry the burden of hidden costs or that it is shared with their parents. In some cases, the family, relatives or even siblings share the burden. Only 4.9% of respondents to the questionnaire said that the Government, the local municipality or the school shares the burden of hidden costs in education.
Hidden costs in education therefore directly affect the school student and her or his ability to attend school and remain in education. It is important to that hidden costs must be considered relative to income earned, i.e. individual economic power.
Measuring hidden costs in education In one of the research corners during the TCIO workshop a graph (see Annex two for a picture of the finished graph) was drawn on which school students and school student activists could reflect on various hidden costs. In this graph, school students and school student activists showed they felt that school materials, including pens, paper and books, is the most expensive hidden cost. Box one includes a short article on hidden costs in education in Italy.
Out of all the types of hidden costs measured, costs for school materials was the one shared by all school students and school student activists. Italian school students and school student activists indicated costs for school materials as high as €800. In Croatia, costs for school materials are indicated to reach €460,1 though most total costs for school materials are quoted as being somewhere between €100 and €350. The Lithuanian school student activist was the only research participant who reported costs for school materials to be less than other European countries at estimate from €70 to €100. Similarly, Finnish school students and school student activists were the only ones who reported costs for second hand books, at €25-35 per book.
Transport was rated as the second most expensive hidden cost in education. Such costs were reported to range from €20 a year in Austria to somewhere between €20 and €55 a month for school students in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Italy and Spain. For school students in Finland, costs for transport may even reach €80 a month. Some school students and school student activists reported costs for transport to and from school to be subsidized or 1
3.500HRK as converted from Croatian Kuna on xe.com on 07/01/2014
discounted. For example, Lithuanian school students said they receive 80% discount for local transport. Similarly, Croatian school students said that the school pays 60% of the costs for transport. The remaining 20% and 40%, respectively, is to be covered by the school student or their parents.
Student counseling and remedial courses
Almost all research participants said that remedial courses, which are courses school students may take after they have failed an exam, are provided free of charge for school students in their country. However, a school student from Bosnia and Herzegovina said they may cost €102 per class. A school student activist from Switzerland also said that private remedial courses cost €203 per hour. Equally, student counseling is provided free of charge in most countries, except in Austria when you seek counseling and support for studying abroad. Italian school students said that student counseling is not provided in Italy.
Other types of hidden costs
Other types of hidden costs mentioned by school students and school student activists included school lunches. In Serbia, for example, school students may spend more than €204 a month on school lunches. Finnish school students indicated that every school student is provided one free warm meal a day. School lunches are thus not defined as hidden costs to education in Finland. Study trips, however, were shown to be high in hidden cost. A school student from Denmark noted that study trips could cost between €200 and €800,5 sometimes even more. A school student from Serbia said that study trips may cost more than €300.6 2 20KM as converted from Bosnian Convertible Mark on xe.com on 07/01/2014 3 25CHF as converted from xe.com on 07/01/2014 4 Amount was provided in € by the school student. 5 1.500DKK and 6.000DKK as converted on xe.com on 07/01/2014. 6 Amount was provided in € by the school student. 16
Other hidden costs mentioned by school students and school student activists included tutoring at â&#x201A;Ź15-30 an hour in Austria and matriculation exams at â&#x201A;Ź1607 in Switzerland. A school student from Lithuania mentioned that school uniforms are also hidden costs, but that this cost may vary.
Research shows that hidden costs are many and that they vary in price and quantity, but it cannot be denied that they affect the school student and increase the total cost of education. School students who cannot afford the high costs are excluded from education, which inevitably violates their right to education. This is the focus of the next section.
200CHF as converted on xe.com on 07/01/2014. 17
NEW HIDDEN COSTS IN ITALIAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Written by: Giuseppina Tucci, Unione degli Studenti (UDS) student activist January 2014 According to the Organisation for Economic Coordination and Development (OECD) data, the total expenditure on education in Italy remains at 4.9% of GNP. According to “Education at a Glance”, Italy is the only OECD country in which spending for primary and secondary education has remained stagnant since 1995, while in other countries they have increased to 62%. The effects of low spending are now visible in every field of education from student welfare to safety in schools, and are becoming increasingly socially unbearable. Today we see a proper mass expulsion from educational paths, which are no longer a vector for social mobility. The Early School Leaving (ESL) is a social emergency: the amount of young people with a lower secondary degree and no longer in education is 17.6%, compared to the EU average of 12.8%, and the difference is visible between the North to the South of Italy – in a region like Friuli Venezia Giulia ESL it reaches 12.1% while in a region like Sardinia the percentage reaches 25.8%.
This data shows the direct effects of the general cuts on education in the past years, but are even the result of hidden costs that students must pay every day. In our country there is the possibility of giving schools a financial contribution on a voluntary basis, but, in the majority of cases, school principals consider it compulsory and force students to pay it through reprisals. The voluntary nature of the contribution is not respected. Also, the funds are not allocated in a balanced way, like they are supposed to be. The average costs per student increase by €180-200 per year, but the overall Italian public school gains ± €335 million through these contributions. Another relevant cost for families is that of schoolbooks and school materials. According to Federconsumatori, upper secondary students spent ± €1.189.60 on books and schools materials last year. There are no welfare measures that amortize these heavy costs apart from the (non-working) student card “IoStudio”, which is insufficient when it comes to discounts and to diffusion all over the country. Another hidden cost of education is public transport. Every day millions of students use means of transport, which in many cases costs too much and is of low quality. For students who travel long distances to school and for students living in the South of Italy, the hundreds of Euros spent on transport are a big barrier access to education for students.
The above is only about the costs linked to formal education. Cinemas, theaters, bookshops and sports are huge costs for students as well as private after-school lessons that many students need to take if they lag behind in any subject at school schools no longer offer intensive courses and a private Math lesson, for example, can cost up to €30/hour.
School student’s right to education This report was conducted from the rights Everybody has the perspective, which means that it drew on basic right to education and universal human rights. The right to education is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.8 The Article 26 of the Declaration states that everyone has the right to education. The Declaration includes an obligation to make secondary education accessible to all, in particular, by the introduction of free secondary education.9 The right to education was reaffirmed in the 1960 UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education.10 Article 4 says that all States Parties to this Convention undertake to formulate, develop and apply a national policy ‘will tend to promote equality of opportunity’ and to make secondary education ‘in its different forms generally available and accessible to all’.11
Similarly, Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights12 of 1976 recognizes everyone’s right to education. Signatories further agree that ‘education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of 8
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) [Pdf], available:
ibid. UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960) [online], available:
ibid. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from 1976. Available at:
peace’.13 To achieve full realisation of this right, ‘Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education.’14
The 1981 Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women15 (CEDAW) and the 2006 Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities16 also reaffirmed the right to education. The right to education encompasses the obligation to rule out discrimination in the educational system and to improve the quality of education. Here, it is important to note that additional national legislation may enforce universal and international rights to education, according to national priorities. For example, Romania currently has the greatest student right legislation in place.17 Many countries in Europe do not have such legislation.18
National legislation for the protection of the school student rights School students who responded to the questionnaire were asked if their country has legislations supporting their rights as a school student. 38.3% of the respondends agreed, 27.8% somewhat agreed and 14.8% did not know. The rest (10.5%) disagreed. As part of the research workshop during TCIO, school students were asked to map national legislation, which protect 13 14
ibid. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1976) [online], available: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CESCR.aspx
The 1981 Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women [online], available: http://www.cedaw2011.org/ Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) [online]. available: http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml
Wikipedia (n.d.) Student Bill of Rights [online], available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student_Bill_of_Rights
their rights as school students. Participants were then asked to determine how this legislation affected the school students in their country, either negatively or positively. See the results below:
Some countries in Europe have comprehensive student bills of rights, which are both clear and accessible to school students. In Serbia, one participant mentioned, it is written in the Constitution that education is free and accessible to everyone. Similarly, a participant from Lithuania stated that they have national legislation for all schools in his country. He iterated that in this legislation it is specified that education is entirely free and open to all. Box two features a short article on rights to education in Lithuania.
Though national legislation is in place in some countries across Europe, school students may not feel protected by them or may even be confused about their rights, as pointed out by a participant who said: ‘In Switzerland student rights are part of the competences of the cantons – There is no national legislation. The result of this is that there are 26 different legislation and many very confused school students.’ ~ School student activist from Switzerland ~
Another participant said that in Romania, educational law is not respected. She pointed out that the Government does not spend the legal required amount (6% of GDP) on education. In Italy, one school student activist said: ‘Schools do not respect the law of maximum cost [for school materials]’. This means, she said, that school students often pay much more for school materials than they should. Both participants agreed that the burden and pressure of hidden costs in education in their countries should not be as high as they currently are.
Written by: Lukas Adomaitis, Lithuanian School Student’s Union (LMS) January 2014 All European Union members must ensure access to free education for all of its citizens. Such matters as foreign policy, social security or education are in the hands of the Member States. Every country has its own policy and laws concerning education, but often we forget that school students and their parents still have to pay for books, school trips or school materials that they need in school. So why do we say that education is free and why do we never talk about the hidden costs of education?
Hidden costs in education can sometimes be a major burden for families who have a child in education. For families in Lithuania this is no exception. For a Lithuanian family earning a minimum wage has to struggle in order to send their children to school. 20.8% of Lithuanians earn a minimum wage, which means that around 193.000 people earn €289.62 per month. Can you imagine how many people from that number have children as school students? Most of the families with minimum cost of living receive social support to cover the costs of most of school materials from the government at the start of the school year. Unfortunately, the amount of support is not sufficient to cover all the expenses because every school chooses different books to study. About 70% of schools in Lithuania have the uniform policy. It is mandatory to wear a school uniform, but schools rarely take into account the fact that not every family can afford a school uniform for their child. A jacket or a blazer can sometimes cost from €50 to €100. School trips in most cases are subsidized by 50%, the other half you have to pay on your own. Not all schools have books to give to students, which is why school students have to buy them. School students facing such costs sometimes quit school at 16 and find a job instead. As the number of early school leavers increases, the government finds it difficult to ensure social support for all school students. As Lithuanian School Students’ Union (LMS), the only organisation representing school students and fighting for their rights in Lithuania, we believe that all hidden costs in education have to be abolished. When we say that education is free we forget how much money we spend on it. That is why we encourage all stakeholders to take action and to fight against unequal chances for school students, so that all have a chance to succeed in education. Education should not be a luxury product. Education should be a fundamental right accessible for all.
School studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rights to participation Though participation in education may be difficult to define, it is generally agreed that participation is the meaningful and active involvement of school students in education.19 For active participation to take place there must be opportunities to participate and an enabling environment in which school students may voluntarily engage. If needed, support should also be offered. This only works, however, if school students are aware of such opportunities and spaces.20
School students have the right to participation
Among the most influential documents concerning young peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rights is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).21 193 countries signed this Convention, including the ones mentioned in this report, and it came into force late 1990. Though the UNCRC defines children as young people up to the age of 18,22 its content remains valid to this research and school students. The UNCRC says that when adults make decisions, which affect young people, young people have the right to say what they think and have their opinions taken into account.23 Adults are also encouraged to listen to the opinions of young people and to involve them in decision-making.24 Similarly, the World Programme of Action for Youth for the Year 2000 and Beyond (A/RES/50/81) asserts the full and effective participation of 19
DFID CSO Youth Working Group (2010) Youth participation in development: A guide for development agencies and policy makers [online], available: http://www.ygproject.org/guide/part-one/youth-participation-overview
22 23 24 24
ibid. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990) [Pdf], available: http://www.unicef.org/crc/files/Rights_overview.pdf
ibid. ibid. ibid.
youth in society and decision-making.25 The resolution asks policy makers to respect young people’s right to political participation. They urge policy makers to: ‘Take into account the contribution of youth in designing, implementing and evaluation national policies and plans affecting their concerns.’ ~World Programme of Action for Youth for the Year 2000 and Beyond26 ~
In Europe, then, the Council of Ministers is convinced that the contributions young people, in this case school students, make are a unique resource for strengthening, among others, human rights in European societies.27 They thus recommend that young people should be able to exercise their right to be heard, to be taken seriously and to participate in all matters affecting them.28
Are these rights being respected? We know school students have the right to education and we know school students have the right to participation. This is all good and well in theory, but how does it work in practice? The questionnaire, which was included in the first part of this report, asked respondents to rate how much they agreed with specific statements. These statements concerned their rights to education and participation. Below is an overview of responses and their implications. 25
World Programme of Action for Youth for the Year 2000 and Beyond (A/RES/50/81), available: http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/50/a50r081.htm 26 ibid. 27 Council of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)2 on the participation of children and young people under the age of 18 [online], available: https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1927229 28 ibid.
Respecting the right to education School students who took part in the questionnaire mostly agreed that they have specific rights as school students, though 6.2% disagreed and 2.5% did not know. Similarly, a large majority agreed that they have the right to a free education. 4.9% disagreed and 2.4% did not know. Again, when asked about their right to access the same quality of education as everybody else, most school students agreed that they have this right. Six (3.7%) school students disagreed. The biggest consensus was reached when school students were asked about their right to be included in education. 86.4% said they completely agreed that they have this right and 4.3% somewhat agreed. Only 1.2% disagreed and only 0.6% did not know. So, a general conclusion to be drawn from these outcomes is that the majority of school students are aware of their right to education. However, when asked if their education is actually of the same quality as everybody elseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, only 30.2% completely agreed. 24% said they somewhat agreed, 10.5% did not know and 25.3% disagreed.
Respecting the right to participation
When school students were asked whether they have the right to express their views and thoughts about issues that worry them the trend follows the above. Most respondents agreed; only 6.1% disagreed and 1.2% did not know. Respondents to the questionnaire were asked whether they feel they can do something, if they are unable to receive a free and quality education. Again, though most agreed, 17.9% said they did not know and 19.7% disagreed. When asked whether school students have the right to be involved in planning, implementing and evaluating policies only 51.2% completely agreed and 25.3% somewhat agreed. 9.2% disagreed and 6.8% did not know. Based on the above data, it is interesting to note that school students feel their rights to participation are respected to a lesser degree than their rights to education. An example, which was given by a participant 26
from Denmark, reflects this. He said:
‘School students no longer get permission to attend school student union meetings during school hours.’ ~ School student activist from Denmark ~
When respondents to the questionnaire were asked whether they feel included in education, 46.9% completely agreed and 32.7% somewhat agreed. 6.8% did not know and 5.5% disagreed. The number of respondents who feel happy in education, however, drops when they were asked whether they feel happy and satisfied in education. Here, 35.8% completely agreed and 32% somewhat agreed. 8.6% did not know and 16.7% either somewhat disagreed or completely disagreed.
Violating rights to education Though respondents to the questionnaire largely agreed they have the right to education and fewer, though still the majority of respondents, agreed they have the right to participation, the level with which respondents agreed decreased when asked about real opportunities to participate. As became apparent from responses received from the questionnaire, sometimes this is due to lack of national legislation that protects the rights of school students. As a result, only half of all respondents said they feel included, happy and satisfied in education.
When unable to cover the hidden costs in education, school students often seek financial support, either in the form of scholarships, from the government or from social security platforms in their respective countries. However, as was pointed out by research participants, not all school students who seek scholarships are successful in getting one. Research participants pointed out that even if they are successful in obtaining a scholarship it
might not even cover half of the costs. In addition, they said, even financial support or financial support provided by non-profit organisations may be insufficient to cover the hidden costs in of education. In Romania,
as explained by a school student, the school must pay back the costs of transport for students from rural areas. However, this school student said that at the moment there are not enough funds and some school students have been waiting for up to eight months for a refund. In other countries, options for support are simply not available. When asked whether respondents knew of examples of what happens to school students unable to cover these cost, many shared stories of instances where they have no choice but to leave school. Other respondents said that school students would look for other ways to pay for school, for example, by working after school, or they would seek other ways to get the materials needed for school. Responses show that school students thus often borrow schoolbooks from the library or buy them second-hand, which is cheaper. Many school students shared their concern that school students who are unable to attend school due to hidden costs in education may have uncertain futures: they may not be able to find employment in the future because they are uneducated. One school student said:
If somebody is excluded from education due to costs, of course he will be without education. If he doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have an education it is not good for his future. He will not find a job nor have a good life. ~ School student from Bosnia and Herzegovina ~
School students also highlighted the psychological consequences of lack of education and/or support from teachers and peers: it may cause loss of motivation and lag behind in studies. Their performance will be
compromised and they may become socially excluded as a school student said: They might not feel comfortable and accepted by society. They can feel different and powerless and it can cost them a normal life as a teenager. ~ School students from Slovenia ~
Another school student added:
When school students don’t have money, they are ashamed and don’t want anybody to know. ~ School student from Serbia ~
Responses show that there is a popular view that not being in education may affect the school student psychologically and may lead to uncertain futures. In some cases, as told by some, school students reported the need to switch schools, which may be less expensive or, in some cases, of less quality. Sometimes, as responses highlighted, the school will help the school student to stay in school and in others the community, family or even peers may help cover the costs. In some cases, however, nothing is done, which was emphasised by a school student who said: When someone has left school, nothing happens. Most people do not care. ~ School student from Bosnia and Herzegovina ~
SPANISH EDUCATION IN CRISIS! Written by: Alba María Serrano Sánchez, International Officer, CANAE
November 6, 2013 At the end of October a national strike calling for a better educational system took place in Spain. The educational community protested against different measures such as the increase of fees; the reform on scholarship schemes; and the new reform on education, the law is called Ley Orgánica para la Mejora de la Calidad Educativa (LOMCE).
This is the second general strike on education that has taken place this year, and the educational community keeps on demonstrating against its nonconformity. LOMCE is a law that has not been debated with the educational community. Parents, teachers and students want to be heard, as we are the ones affected by this reform and we have a lot of proposals regarding the new law and our educational system. CANAE, as well as other organisations, demand to stop this law being implemented and to start a dialogue process between the decision-makers and stakeholders, as we believe that this is the best way to find joint solutions for the Spanish education. The measures proposed by this law are a step backward in a lot of aspects, from the participation of the students in their schools to very rigid study paths that do not allow the students to settle into their most convenient educational path. Some of the alarming aspects of this law are for example school student councils losing their power and turning into consultative bodies, heads of schools being chosen by the government, school rankings, the age of choice between VET and academic track is lowered, arts and humanities losing weight in curricula, guaranteeing public funding for single-sex schools and citizenship education subjects disappearing from the curricula. The last general strikes have clearly shown that a high percentage of the community does not agree with this reform, and we will keep protesting and demonstrating if necessary. Undoubtedly, CANAE will continue joining the educational strikes protesting against this reform and proposing changes for the government.
Taking action Hidden costs in education, which may go beyond what the school student can afford, goes against school studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; rights to education and participation. Education should be accessible to everyone and no school student should ever be denied education. Hidden costs in education are a challenge, but school students are not afraid to take action. Box three features an article written by a school student activist from Spain. Pictures featured in the original article have been removed.
In some cases alternative sources of funding are found or provided. An example given by a school student from Romania explains that her school has a Parentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Committee, which gives financial support to school students who cannot afford the costs of education. In some schools, school student associations take action to prevent social exclusion of school students. In Spain, for example, as a school student explained, they establish student unions, student associations, public education platforms and a network of student mediators. In Slovenia, school students said, initiatives act towards changing the student organisation in their country.
Responses to the questionnaire included stories about how teachers will take action by sending letters to the Ministry of Education or to look for second-hand books for school students who are unable to pay for new ones. Sometimes, as a school student from Spain explained, some teachers provide the texts for free. Another action, which was highlighted by respondents, is peers also helping in as they may raise funds to cover the costs other school students may not be able to pay for themselves: bake sales or auctions to raise money are not uncommon in Croatia. All of these actions may lessen the burden of hidden costs, but do not eliminate them.
Final note This report is a compilation of data, which was gathered through a questionnaire and participatory discussions with school students and school student activists from twelve European countries. Though the collected data does not represent all school studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; views, it has provided a general overview of the topic. These school students and school student activists brought to light the hidden costs and the effects of hidden costs on the school student in their respective country. More specifically, school students and school student activists defined and measured hidden costs of education, specified how their rights were being violated and gave examples on how they undertook action to prevent exclusion of school students. The research was conducted from the rights perspective, taking into account school studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; rights to education and participation. Hidden costs are costs for school above tuition fees. Hidden costs include costs for school materials (books, paper and pens), costs for transport, student counseling as well as costs for study trips, remedial courses, matriculation exams, school uniforms, school parties, contributions to school funds, school security, contests and presents for teachers.
Roughly one third of the school students said that they carry the burden of hidden costs or that the burden is shared with their parents. Sometimes these costs are also shared or covered by a relative or sibling. The burden of the hidden costs affect the school student in a direct way and often leads to the school student leaving school or seeking work to be able to pay for school. Sometimes, school students who are unable to afford the hidden costs in education are affected psychologically or may face uncertain futures due to an inability to find employment. Everyone has the right to education and all school students have the right to participation. Though these rights exist, they are sometimes not applied in practice. Though most school students agreed they have these rights, many 32
agreed that their country does not have a national legislation protecting their rights. Similarly, most school students agreed they are not given the opportunity or space to express their views on issues concerning them. One such issue, as the short stories featured in this report show, are educational policies and their reform.
Much work needs be done to achieve truly inclusive education in which each school student feels accepted and satisfied. As a school students from Estonia put it: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Nobody should be excluded from education because they cannot afford it.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;
Reference and rightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reading list Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) [online]. available: http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml Council of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)2 on the participation of children and young people under the age of 18 [online], available: https://wcd. coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1927229
DFID CSO Youth Working Group (2010) Youth participation in development: A guide for development agencies and policy makers [online], available: http:// www.ygproject.org/guide/part-one/youth-participation-overview
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1976) [online], available: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CESCR. aspx
UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960) [online], available: http://www.unesco.org/most/lnlaw3.htm United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990) [Pdf], available: http://www.unicef.org/crc/files/Rights_overview.pdf
United Nations Youth policy [online], available at www.un.org/youth
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) [Pdf], available: http://watchlist. org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Universal-declaration-of-human-rights.pdf
Wikipedia (n.d.) Student Bill of Rights [online], available: http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Student_Bill_of_Rights
World Programme of Action for Youth for the Year 2000 and Beyond (A/ RES/50/81), available, http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/50/a50r081.htm
Annex one: research outcomes The tables depicted in this annex show a detailed overview of all responses given to the questionnaire. Each table represents a question included in the questionnaire. The first 5 questions specified respondentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s names, country, nationality, age, sex and type of school she/he goes to. These were included in the body of this report and will not be repeated here.
Question 9: Do you think your education is expensive? Answer
Number of times given
No Yes No answer given
82 72 8
Question 10: Beside school and tuition fees, what would you say is a cost in your education?
Number of times given
School materials (for example: pens, paper, books, etc.)
Transport Remedial courses (additional courses, which you may take in case you failed an exam) Student counseling Food/school cafeteria No answer given Study trips Contests None Exams Matriculation exams Presents for teachers School parties School fund School security Scripts needed for class
73 44 13 8 7 4 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 35
Question 11: Who pays for the above-mentioned things? Answer
Parents Me/myself No answer given Students Family/relatives Municipality/government School Siblings Relatives Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know Social insurance
Number of times given 111 38 17 8 5 5 2 1 1 1 1
Question 12: Which of the following extra curricular activities contribute to your education?
Books, music and/or films Non-formal education activities Cinema and/or museum visits Sports Study exchanges Newspaper No answer given Student Council/student committee Internet School clubs Personal development activities Trips with organisations Writing Final exams Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know
Number of times given 123 92 68 61 51 44 14 3 2 2 1 1 1 1 1
Question 13: Who pays for the above-mentioned things? Answer
Number of times given 84 49 24 20 12 8 5 4 3 3 1
Parents/mom I do/me No answer given School Students Family Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s free Municipality/government NGO/foundation I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know Depends on the activity
Question 14: To what extent do you agree with the following statements? Statement As a school student I have specific rights I have the right to a free education I have the right to be included in education I have the right to the same quality of education as everybody else I have the right to express my views and thoughts about issues that worry me
I completely agree
I somewhat agree
I do not know
I somewhat disagree
I completely agree
I have the right to be involved in planning, implementing and evaluating policies In my country there are legislations that support my rights as a school student My education is of the same quality as everybody elseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s When I am not able to receive a free and quality education, I can do something about it If I want, I can de educated I feel accepted in education I feel happy and satisfied in education
Question 15: What happens if somebody is excluded from education due to costs, which they cannot afford? Please elaborate using an example. Answer
Will get financial support They leave school Uncertain future Do not know of an example They work (to pay for school) They are unable to go to school School students are ashamed/psychological effects School helps Loan books from library/get second hand books May seek help from local authorities Scholarship 38
Number of times given 12 10 8 8 6 5 5 5 4 4 3
Switch schools We collect money for them/ donations Payment deals are made The school student will not be able to receive the best education Social support Find education they can afford Unable to go on study trip, they have to write assignment Will not be able to find a job â&#x20AC;&#x201C; will end up homeless They find a different way Nothing happens They are unable to buy the school materials Will cause lack of motivation Take a student loan Our country is not invested in solving this problem Does not participate There are open calls for social excluded school students Affects ability to study I take action National student council takes a stand, but little they can do Find others ways to finish education The country will suffer They lag behind They ask for help It ruins human rights Performance consequences People donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care Socially excluded They become NEETs Homeschooling
3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Question 16: Do you know of any examples of action undertaken to prevent exclusion of students in education institutions? If so, please elaborate. Answer
Grants/outside financial support Scholarships are awarded, but do not cover even half Bribe Student association takes action to prevent social exclusion Parents Committee give financial support Teachers provide their own texts for free Teachers take action by sending reports to the Ministry Economic support Peers will raise funds Auction things to pay for school Bake sales/conferences Partially funded textbook funds Created a mediators student net Student unions and associations and public education platforms Teachers help the student pass Student initiatives fight for the reform of student organisation
Number of times given
4 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Annex two: measuring hidden costs of education