Children’s homework in Spain has become so excessive that thousands of parents are now planning to go on strike over it.
The Spanish Alliance of Parents' Associations (CEAPA) is encouraging moms and dads to take a stand and boycott weekend homework for the month of November. According to CEAPA president Jose Luis Pazos, children’s extreme after-school workload is “detrimental” to their well-being and infringes on their extracurricular development.
So how much homework are children in Spain actually getting? According to a 2012 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Spanish teens receive 6.5 hours of homework per week. By comparison, Canadian and American kids spend about six hours per week on after-school assignments.
However, CEAPA says many Spanish kids are getting far more homework than the study indicates.
Class schedules in Spain vary depending on the region and school, but according to The Guardian, they generally begin at 8 or 9 a.m. and end between 2 and 5 p.m., with a long lunch break in between. However, many schools have begun ending classes early at 2 p.m. and assigning large amounts of homework in order to cut costs.
This has become an increasing issue in Spain, says CEAPA president Pazos.
“We’ve lost a bit of common sense in this country when it comes to talking about education and we’ve got a system in which boys’ and girls’ free time has disappeared,” he told radio station Onda Cero.
“Schools are passing on tasks to families that they shouldn’t be. They’ve made us into second teachers and left children in the latter stages of secondary [school] with up to 60 hours of school work a week. It starts with children from the ages of three to six doing half an hour’s homework every day. For us, that’s an unacceptable situation.”
Parents who join the strike will now submit a formal request for their children not to receive homework on weekends this month. However, “if schools do anyway then parents will send in a note excusing their children for not having done the work with the explanation why,” CEAPA said in a statement.
“Schools are passing on tasks to families that they shouldn’t be. They’ve made us into second teachers and left children in the latter stages of secondary [school] with up to 60 hours of schoolwork a week.”
CEAPA includes over 12,000 parent associations, which means the strike could affect students in both primary and secondary schools. So far, the association has received support from parents and some teachers, The Guardian reports.
Another reason for the boycott is that more homework doesn’t necessarily mean children will have better grades. As Pazos said, too much homework can be harmful to children.
In fact, a 2014 study proved that an excessive workload led to high stress in kids, thus resulting in health problems, both mental and physical. This includes things like depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, stomach problems and migraines.
In response to the homework strike, a spokesperson for the education department of Madrid told The Guardian that the amount of homework given is based on individual schools, rather than regionally.
“It’s a question of autonomy: the teachers know what the needs of every student and every class are,” he said. “But we do urge that schools try to make sure that different teachers and departments coordinate homework so that they’re not all giving a lot of homework at the same time. We also recommend that schools explain their homework policy to parents when they enroll their children.”