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Educational Study in Spain – Benefits of Reading at Home



Fourth-grade children, ages eight and nine, whose parents read with them at home have a half-year advantage in reading comprehension compared to those who do not. Family accompaniment opens a gap between students in terms of reading comprehension that is similar (in fact, a little higher) than that generated by differences in the socioeconomic level of the parents, although both factors are frequently related of the interventions that can be carried out at home, the involvement of parents in reading is one of those that have the most positive effects, for example, supervising the children’s homework, an action that seems to bear little fruit, and that should not be confused with another, which according to the available evidence is more useful, which consists of “establishing rules and routines about where, when and how they have to do their homework”, all this according to the collection of data, coming among other sources from the international evaluations of Pisa and Pirls, recently carried out by the Bofill Foundation.

The entity, based in Barcelona and dedicated to the study of educational policies from the perspective of equity, has just launched a program to increase reading support at home, with the warning that it is a serious problem. Between 20% and 23.2% of Spanish students have low levels of reading comprehension in fourth grade, which is usually a predictor of school failure. Research suggests that children from disadvantaged backgrounds who do well in school are good readers, with above-average reading skills, which the foundation says can “be crucial in overcoming the risk of social exclusion and generating a resilient student body. His campaign Families, allies of reading is aimed at offering educational centers, libraries and social entities methodology and practical resources so that they can carry out their own “training actions” of families in reading accompaniment.

Juan Mata, an educator and professor for 40 years at the University of Granada, has studied the phenomenon in depth “Sometimes it seems that reading corresponds only to a special area, the school, but it is not. The school has an important role, but the primary environment is the family. As they grow up, the boy or girl is impregnated with what they find around them. And a large part of what the family has already acquired, be it in reading, in social relationships, in playing sports or in dancing, conditions what their tastes and inclinations will be.

This process, in the case of reading, begins before the child sets foot in school, and continues afterward, says Mata. It is made of readings aloud before going to sleep, of family conversations around books, of visits with their parents to bookstores, of the presence of books, newspapers or magazines in their home, of gifts that consist of stories, comics or novels. “That ecosystem of the book is decisive, and unfortunately, I say it with pain, with it begins a curve that separates the children who enter the world of reading naturally and those who do not”. Reading comprehension has repercussions in almost all subjects, says Mata, from the Bofill Foundation: “If we are not capable of understanding the statement of a mathematical problem, it will be difficult for us to solve it.”

There is also a paradox about which Juan Mata warns. And it is that the school, the best weapon available to students from disadvantaged homes to compensate their initial disadvantage, tends to enlarge, “without realizing it”, that inequality of origin “Textbooks are designed for children who can read fluently. The concepts are designed for children with a specific vocabulary, the formation of which is greatly influenced by their particular family or social environment. And so, slowly, almost from the beginning, a separation begins between the children that begin with different reading proficiency and explodes years later in high school.

Read more from the source EL PAÍS

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Spain’s far-right Vox seek to make gains in 28 May local and regional elections



Spain’s third largest political group in the national parliament, the far-right Vox party, is looking to make gains in the local and regional elections due to be held across the country on 28 May.

Since it entered a regional government for the first time in Castilla y León last year, Vox has attacked the unions and pushed polarising positions on social issues, including abortion and transgender rights.

It is now poised to spread its influence beyond the sparsely populated region near Madrid, with the party hoping to make gains in the elections at the end of May.

Surveys suggest the main opposition, the right-wing People’s Party (PP), could need the support of Vox to govern in half of the 12 regions casting ballots, just as it did in Castilla y León last year.

Polls also indicate the PP is on track to win a year-end general election but would need Vox to form a working majority and oust socialist (PSOE) Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his coalition government from office.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal [pictured at a recent rally in Chinchón, near Madrid] has called the PP-VOX coalition government in office in Castilla y León since March 2022 a ‘showroom’ and ‘an example of the alternative Spain needs’.

It is Spain’s first government to include a far-right party since the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

In Castilla y León, Vox has slashed funding to unions, which the party has vowed to ‘put in their place’ if it comes to power nationally. Trade union UGT was forced to lay off 40% of its staff in Castilla y León last month and scale back programmes to promote workspace safety. Spain’s other main union, the CCOO, is reportedly preparing to follow suit.

Vox has also angered LGBTQ groups by refusing to allow the regional parliament to be lit up in the colours of the rainbow, the symbol of the gay rights movement, for Pride festivities as in past years when the PP governed alone.

In addition, the regional vice-president, Vox’s Juan García-Gallardo, has railed against a law passed by Spain’s leftist central government that extends transgender rights.

The 32-year-old lawyer warned earlier this month that women would now be ‘forced to share locker rooms with hairy men at municipal swimming pools’.

Vox’s most contested initiative was a proposal that doctors offer women seeking an abortion a 4D ultrasound scan to try to discourage them from going ahead with the procedure.

The idea was swiftly condemned by Spain’s leftist central government, and Castilla y León’s PP president Alfonso Fernández Mañueco stopped the measure from going ahead.

The issue highlighted the hazards for the PP of joining forces with Vox, which was launched in 2013 and is now the third-largest party in the national parliament.


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Spain – Gas falls below 90 euros per MWh for the first time in almost two months



The price of TTF natural gas for delivery next month has fallen below 90 euros on Friday for the first time in almost two months and closes a week marked by the decision of the European Commission to cap gas with a drop of 29, 36%.
According to data from the Bloomberg platform, gas closed this Friday at 83 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh), 8.9% less than the day before and the first time it has lost 90 euros since last October 31.
After months of negotiations, the EU agreed on Monday to set a cap of 180 euros on contracts linked to the Amsterdam TTF index with a price difference of at least 35 euros above the average price of liquefied natural gas in the markets.

EU countries agree on a cap of 180 euros for gas with the support of Germany
In a report this week, the Swiss investment bank Julius Baer indicated that the chances of the mechanism being activated are low and pointed out that the chosen formula was not very effective in avoiding the multiplier effect that gas has on the price of electricity. However, he reiterated what was said in other previous reports: “Energy supply risks are minimal and prices should continue to decline in the future” due to the availability of raw materials from Asia to offset cuts from Russia.

Gas tends to fall during the hot months due to lower demand, but this summer it has reached historic heights as European countries were buying to face the winter with their tanks full and reduce their dependence on Russia. The price fell in September and October due to lower demand once the warehouses were full due to the high temperatures at the beginning of autumn, but in November it picked up again and 66% more expensive.

This article was originally published on Público

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Spain – The retirement age rises to 66 years



Ordinary retirement at age 65 ends for those who have contributed less than 38 years. In fact, 2023 will be the last year in which this can be done since it will be necessary to have a contribution career of a minimum of 37 years and nine months to be able to retire with the reference age of the last century, since it was established in 1919, and once the year is over another quarter will be added to be able to do it without cuts in the benefit.
This requirement means that to access ordinary retirement at age 65 without loss of pay, it will be necessary to have been working, at least, since April 1985 for those who exercise this right in December 2023 and since May 1984 for those who intend to do it in January.

More than ten million contributory pensioners
In the last decade, and coinciding with the implementation of the delay program, the real retirement age of Spanish workers has increased by one year, from 63.9 in 2012 to 64.8 in mid-2022, according to data from the Financial Economic Report of the Social Security included in the General State Budget.

Contributory pensions will have a historic rise of 8.5% as of January as a result of the disproportionate increase in the CPI, while for non-contributory pensions the revision will be 15%. This review will place the average pension of the contributory system at 1,187 euros per pay, while the retirement pension will rise to 1,365, the disability pension will reach 1,122 and the widow’s pension will reach 847, as a result of applying the 8.5% increase.

The Social Security forecasts point to next year, and while waiting to find out the real effects that the rise may have on the payroll due to its “call effect” to bring forward retirement given the opportunity to alleviate with it the penalties for anticipating it, the number of pensioners will consolidate above ten million, with almost two-thirds of them (6.37) as retirees, to which will be added 2.3 million widows and almost one affected by work disabilities.

This record number of pensioners will place the cost of pensions at 209,165 million euros, the bulk of which (196,399, 93.8%) will be used to pay benefits, including non-contributory ones. Health care has a budget of 1,890 million euros and social services another 3,791, while the remaining 7,144 are dedicated to operating expenses.

On the revenue side, the largest contribution comes from the contribution chapter, which will amount to 152,075 million and will leave the gap with contributory benefits at 36,765.
The imbalance will be covered by a contribution of 38,904 from the Government, to which is added a chapter of others worth 18,116 and which includes everything from sanctions to asset disposals, among other concepts.

Read more of this from the source Público

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