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AUSTERITY SPAIN

Cutbacks leave half a million students without aid for textbooks

Government has slashed over one billion euros from budget for Spain’s schools compared to previous year

J. A. Aunión

Some 500,000 school students across Spain won't be eligible for state aid to purchase their textbooks because of the stringent cutbacks made in education at the ministerial, regional and local levels, figures show.

The Education Ministry says there are 8.05 million students attending classes this year -- a 1.7 percent-hike in enrollment from the past school semester. These additional 136,000 students are spread out across all educational levels, from kindergarten to high school and vocational training.

With respect to the school budget last year, the government has made some 1.12 billion euros in cuts, which will greatly affect those who rely on aid to buy books.

But the ministry states that 15,000 more students this year will be given grants even though money was cut from that budget by 185 million euros compared with the 2011-2012 school year. "The only explanation for this is that the average grant amount will be lesser so that they can be spread out to more students," said Juan Martínez, a CCOO labor union official.

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