The Madrid branch of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) has come up with a novel idea to help working parents should it get into power in the region at the next elections. The party has suggested opening all public junior schools for 12 hours a day, from 7am to 7pm, to help parents with their work-life balance.
The unusual proposal was made today at a “state of the region” debate in the Madrid parliament by the party spokesperson, Juan Lobato. The idea is for schools to observe this timetable five days a week, and for them to be open from September 1 to July 31. Currently the term at public schools begins in the second week of September and finishes toward the end of June.
According to the PSOE’s calculations, the plan would cost around €35 million a year, which would be used to hire around 3,000 monitors to work over this 11-month period. The party would like to see extra-curricular activities available for children such as sport, culture, creativity and robotics.
Saying that he was “fully aware of the difficult situation that many Madrileño families are going through,” he stated that the PSOE will keep working to “offer clear, concrete and realistic measures so that this uncertainty is converted into certainty, security and opportunities.”
He also proposed free school meals for students aged three to 12 if their household income is below €35,000 a year, as well as free public transport.
For many working parents, the 10-week school holiday in the region can be a major challenge – in particular once September arrives and vacation allowances at work have usually been used up.
The Madrid region has been governed by the conservative Popular Party (PP) for the last 25 years. The next elections are due to be held in May 2023. A snap election was called in May 2021 after a power-sharing deal between the PP, centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) and far-right Vox fell apart. The PP won the election but fell short of a majority, but current premier Isabel Díaz Ayuso was still voted back into office thanks to the support of far-right Vox.
“A free bar doesn’t work, it’s not possible,” Ayuso stated in the parliament on Tuesday in response to the opposition parties’ proposals in the chamber.