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Teachers of the Spanish Second Republic

Jos Mara Maravall, Preface of Maestros de la repblica (Teachers of the Republic) by Mara Antonia Iglesias Trans. by Prof. Duprey At the beginning of the nineteen thirties, the Spanish education system was in very poor condition. In education, the State had a weak presence since it was

subordinated to the action of the Catholic Church. Public apathy, manifested in the primary levels of education, and discrimination were taking place between those who could attend high school and those who had no chance to study after elementary education and, thus, had to abandon secondary education. As Francisco Giner has put it: Of all the problems of interest to political and social regeneration of our people, I dont know of one so despised as the national education. Thus, the Second Republic was born with a program of comprehensive reform of the education system that included urgent construction of schools, a concern with the dignity of the teacher by establishing a substantial increase in their salaries, the establishment of a unitary system of three cycles, promotion of an active and participatory pedagogy, and a secular [non religious] conception of education. For instance, in four years, between April 1931 and April 1935, the national number of teachers increased from 37,500 to 50,500. This reform attracted the hostility of powerful [traditionalist] sectors in the Spanish society. The Civil War thus served to eliminate education as shield and defense of the Republic.

The Repression of Francos Dictatorship Against Teachers

The goal of ending educational and cultural progress was instrumental in the

insurrection of July 18, 1936 [] But in the case of the systematic killings of teachers at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, political reasons also guided personal revenge. Behind murder [] and fear, one of the policies of Francoism was a systematic campaign to eradicate the educational and cultural policy of the Republic. In 1937, Jos Pemartn, Minister of Higher Education and Media, stated: Perhaps 75 percent of the official staff-teacher has betrayed (some openly, others covertly, which are the most dangerous) the national cause. A cleansing that will inevitably diminish the number of people with formal education. In nine provinces, about which there is systematic data, around 250 teachers were executed. And 54 secondary public schools created by the Republic were closed. In addition, around 25 percent of the teachers suffered some form of repression, and 10 percent were dismissed for life. In the Basque Country and Catalonia, all public school teachers were fired and had to apply for readmission through an expensive process. The overwhelming majority of executions of teachers took place at the beginning of the Civil War, between July and October 1936. Mostly all of these episodes were ruthless. It was not just personal hatred and resentment: the repression sought to implement a generalized fear. The future system would be an authoritarian and totalitarian regime, not a benevolent dictatorship. And a totalitarian regime is a system of terror imposed by the controls of the party and the police. It was so from the insurrection of July 18, 1936, and lasted a long time. The goal was explicit: item 6 of the 26 points of the Falange (The only political party of Francos dictatorship) declared that: our state will be a totalitarian instrument. The reasons for the executions were to eradicate the spirit of the Republic [in part] embodied in teachers and in education, which cause widespread fear [] Those

groups were generally armed Falangistas [] Much of the responsibility fell to priests of the Catholic Church: they elaborated blacklistings and were present in the executions. The evidence of their complicity is overwhelming. The Church played a key role in the repression and cleansing of the teachers. So many members of the clergy of the Catholic Church played a crucial role in repression [] In education, when the so-called purification committees were created, one of the requirements established for the purification procedure was the report that a priest had to present on the performance of a teacher. The union between the forces of the Spanish State and the Catholic Church constituted what is known as the national-Catholicism. In the field of education and culture, it entailed the destruction of the humanist tradition, which was liberal and reformist [] For instance, the catechism of Ripalda asserted the following: Are there other pernicious liberties? Yes sir, the freedom of education, and the freedom of assembly. Why are these pernicious freedoms? Because they serve to teach and propagate vice. Thus, the Spanish State claimed the teaching of the Catholic religion as a compulsory part of the curriculum in all schools in the country, of any class and level, and in conformity with all the teachings and principles of the Catholic Church.