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Why is it important to increase the hours of Physical Education in schools?



Despite the fact that this subject is considered as unimportant subject and easy to pass, exercising has benefits on a personal and social level and can provide children with motivation and commitment, as well as improve their academic performance.

Exercising is good at any age. But picking up the habit from a young age is essential. The family doctor and pediatrician Teresa Escudero Ozores considers it essential that children internalize the practice of daily exercise, and points out that the figures for a sedentary lifestyle among the young population in Spain are the highest in Europe. “A sedentary lifestyle is very dangerous because it causes cardiovascular diseases, the most prevalent at the present time. Children need to move more than adults, a minimum of one hour of intense exercise a day (something that is also recommended by the Spanish Association of Pediatrics), because becoming overweight or suffering from childhood obesity is a serious health problem ”.

As Escudero explains, in some Nordic countries or in the United Kingdom children have more hours of recreation and contact with nature than in Spain: “Movement and going out to breathe fresh air in parks or forests improves ADHD, since it improves concentration, for example.

If we talk about Physical Education in schools, broadly speaking, this is considered a subject with little recognition (commonly called Maria) and historically relegated, a subject that, moreover, is easy to pass. David Hortigüela Alcalá, professor at the University of Burgos and director of the Department of Specific Didactics and the Area of Didactics of Body Expression, explains that he still hears how many call it Gymnastics, although he stresses that there has been a reconstruction process since the LOGSE (General Organic Law of the Educational System) of 1990. This professional points out that it is a subject that compared to others can provide more motivation, commitment, responsibility and happiness to the student, although this is influenced —and a lot— by the methodological approach that knows how to give the teacher. The teacher emphasizes that many children and adolescents only practice the physical activity they do at school.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends the practice of exercise in children because it favours physical and mental health, preventing a large number of diseases. As indicated in the curriculum, in Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) 105 hours of Physical Education are taught per year for the first three years, and 35 hours for the fourth year. In Spain, in the case of Madrid, a third weekly hour has been achieved in all ESO courses. In other autonomous communities, two hours are offered in this educational stage. And in the last year of Baccalaureate, none are taught anymore.

“There are so few hours of Physical Education that from the Official College of Physical Education and Sports Graduates (COLEF) we have already claimed on many occasions the need for the third weekly hour. We consider that it should be mandatory for the effective development of the child”, explains Hortigüela. According to this teacher, it has been shown that the more hours of school Physical Education, the higher the academic performance, self-concept, better social climate or ability to manage one’s own practice.

Ángel Pérez Pueyo is coordinator of the Physical Education Module of the University Master’s Degree in Teacher Training in Compulsory Secondary Education and Baccalaureate, Vocational Training and Language Teaching and responsible for Fundamentals of Didactics of Physical Activity of the Degree in Physical Activity Sciences and Sport. This professional explains that children, as they grow, are immersed in many extracurricular activities, but the motor aspect is usually considered secondary: “From the COLEF Council we advocate that the increase in hours in Physical Education per week be of quality”.

The director of Grupo Attitudes also indicates that a process of change is necessary, and that this must take place without haste and investing time and money: “Knowing that we can do things better, even so, sometimes, it does not pay off, except when we understand that our own son would benefit.” Pérez Pueyo asserts that they have ensured that, in the curriculum, one of the objectives of the subject involves generating autonomy and positive experiences in the student and that this encourages him to continue with the practice by himself “With positive experiences where the child don’t get bored, participate and have fun, the real satisfaction of learning will be achieved” To conclude, this expert emphasizes that the teacher needs an adequate space in which to develop his class and implement the resources available to him. “It is better to have an adequate space than the material, because a teacher can have little, but know how to use it.”

David Feijoo Fernández, a Physical Education teacher at the Colexio San Pío X in Ourense, and Martín Barcala Furelos, a professor and researcher at the European University of the Atlantic, who also teaches classes in the Teaching Degree and Physical Activity Sciences and Sports, clarify that in the educational curriculum of Primary Education, students have an average of 100 hours of Physical Education. “However, we are aware that the effective time of the tasks that involve motor activity does not usually exceed 50% of the total time of the session, so it is very little,” says Feijoo Fernández. “In a society where individualism and inactivity prevail, it can mean an improvement in the self-concept of the students, and reconnect with the physical activity practiced in a group. This can be an essential pillar for education in values and an approach towards a healthy life at all levels”, agrees the teacher.

“Physical Education is the only subject that uses active methodologies and games as methodological resources. It takes place in the sports center, in the playground or in a properly delimited natural environment. In the curriculum and in the student’s service, it is emphasized that motor skills constitute an essential and inseparable element of learning itself”, concludes Barcala Furelos as a claim to increase those hours.

This article was originally published on 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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