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There can be very little argument that the new Catalan minister of education, Anna Simó, has inherited a real hot potato from her predecessor, Josep González Cambray, which has resulted in a strike being called at the beginning of the school year on September 6th by several unions (Ustec-Stes, CGT and Intersindical-CSC), who are also threatening to extend the strike by many more days if the new ministerial head does not offer dialogue and rectification. Taking into account that Anna Simó was appointed as the new holder of the portfolio on June 12th, it does not seem that they have given her many days to correct Cambray's course, and that she will inevitably have to do so if she wants to pacify relations with the educational community.

Of the last three Catalan education ministers - Josep Bargalló, Cambray and Simó - it is, without a doubt, the most recent arrival who has the most ability to find a solution to the mess left by her predecessors. Both through her knowledge of the department and for her recognized disposition to open dialogue. But it is also necessary to give her some time, and having a series of strikes on the table a fortnight after taking office is, in a way, to start the building of the house with the roof. Throughout the Cambray reign I defended most of the protests that were made, because the inflexible attitude of the previous minister made him an easy target in a department where, in addition to money, a lot of careful handling is needed. The investments that were placed on the negotiation table lasted for about as long as a bag of candy would if placed at the school door: no time at all.

It is logical that the unions are wary as a result of the recent past. But it is also logical for the administration to have a certain margin to show that the new incumbent's will to solve the problem is radically different from that of her predecessor. Without this minimal trust, agreements are impossible and all parties end up losing credibility. It is necessary and urgent to pacify the school sector and establish a framework of certainty that satisfies both parties for the benefit of students, who are at the end of the chain of stress created by the discrepancies in the educational community. And, to do this, each part must live up to what is expected of them.

Because, if the current situation is not pacified and there is no coming together that will facilitate detente, the problem, which has existed for a long time, will fester. This week the Catalan Parliament held a single-issue session on defending Catalan in schools from attacks by the state. The view ahead is somewhat ominous and a PP-Vox government at Spanish level would be more than just a linguistic threat. We have seen stances that are openly anti-Catalan from the new autonomous governments in both the Valencian Country and the Balearic Islands. The right has gone on the rampage against Catalan in schools and, therefore, some sort of protection and consensus will be needed.

But we must also be aware that education has a serious problem in Catalonia. There are too many indicators going backwards that need to be addressed head on without burying heads in the sand. It's not just the school dropout rate, but the actual teaching and the knowledge, two basic pillars that have been moving backwards for some time. The discussions between the administration, the educational community and the unions must also include this.