Knowing the public money that is used to finance religion classes in public and subsidized centers can become an impossible mission. Only ten autonomous communities have provided elDiario.es with the annual amounts dedicated to paying the salaries of these teachers. In total, if the data for the 2020/21 academic year are taken into account, the regional governments have spent 205.4 million euros on this budget item, adding the amounts provided by Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, the Balearic Islands, Cantabria, Castilla- La Mancha, Catalonia, Madrid, La Rioja and the Valencian Community.
Forbidden to teach: nobody knows what to do with students who do not choose Religion
In addition to regional financing, the central government also dedicates a budget item to this matter. In 2021, the salary of religion teachers paid by the Ministry of Education broke its record with 115 million euros, as published by this newsroom. In order to know the total cost assumed by the State to pay the salaries of these teachers, it would also be necessary to have access to the disbursement of the rest of the communities that have not provided this information to elDiario.es after being requested through the regional transparency portal.
Madrid and Castilla-La Mancha: more than 40 million per year
Taking into account the data obtained through the regional transparency portals, the Community of Madrid and Castilla-La Mancha are the regions that allocated the highest budget item to pay teachers who teach religion. The two communities exceeded 40 million euros. The Government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso dedicated 47.2 million in 2022 and 46.5 million in 2021 to this mission, according to data published by the Community on annual budget execution.
In the 2020/21 school period, Madrid registered a peak of religion teachers: it hired 1,239. A course later he had 19 less. Most (1,192) of these employees are linked to the Catholic religion, compared to the 22 who taught the Evangelical religion and six, the Islamic religion. The annual cost of each of these places amounts to 41,268 euros, in the case of Primary Education, and 46,287 euros, in Secondary Education, according to the information provided by the Madrid transparency portal.
In Castilla-La Mancha they had 852 teachers in the 2021/22 academic year and 902 in 2020/21. To pay their remuneration, 41.8 and 40.5 million euros were allocated, respectively. Following the general trend, most of these amounts went to cover the cost of employees who teach Catholic religion classes. Analyzing national data, talking about religion teachers in Spain is practically referring to the Catholic religion.
The Community of Madrid and Castilla-La Mancha are followed by Catalonia (34.7 million), the Valencian Community (32.5 million) and Andalusia (30.6 million), according to the data for the 2021/22 academic year, to which has accessed elDiario.es. It must be taken into account that these are the expenses assumed by the autonomous communities, that is, it is the money that comes out of the autonomous coffers.
In the case of Andalusia, these 30.6 million are used solely to pay the salaries of teachers who teach in Compulsory Secondary Education because the powers to hire teachers in Early Childhood and Primary Education correspond to the Ministry of Education. In 2021 – the latest figures consulted by this newsroom – Pilar Alegría’s department spent 84 million euros to pay those salaries. If these two amounts are added, the 100 million directed to pay the salaries of religion teachers are exceeded.
115 million paid by the Ministry in 2021
The Ministry of Education not only faces these fees in Andalusia, but also in Aragon, Cantabria, the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla. In these communities, the central government has powers to hire teachers who do not belong to the Corps of Teaching Officials and who teach Catholic, Evangelical and Islamic confessions in public Infant and Primary Education centers. In the case of autonomous cities, they also face the hiring of religion teachers for Secondary Education and Baccalaureate students.
Throughout the last decade, the Ministry’s funds to pay the salaries of these teachers have fluctuated between 94.3 million euros in 2012 and 115.9 in 2021. The money received and the number of hours taught have developed disparate trends. If in the last ten years the financing of the central government has increased over time, the number of its teachers and the total hours worked by teachers have only decreased in that period. Compared to the 3,281 teachers hired by Education in the 2011/12 academic year, the Ministry had 2,827 teachers in the 2021/2022 period. In the last decade they have lost 454 teachers. From the Education press office they explain that the increase in spending is due to the fact that in 2021 “a review of the salary supplements of these teachers was carried out.”
Andalusia was the community that received the highest funding from the Ministry in 2021 to pay the salaries of religion teachers in Infant and Primary, the following autonomies that obtained the highest item were the Canary Islands (18 million euros), Aragon (6 million) , Cantabria (4 million) and Madrid (73,623 euros), the latter is paid the corresponding amount for distance education services. 2.1 and 1.2 million euros were allocated to the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, respectively.
Along with the 18 million euros it receives from the central government, the Canary Islands has not provided this newsroom with the regional item aimed at paying the salaries of secondary school religion teachers. For its part, Aragón has provided that information. Its educational department used 3.2 million euros in the 2021/22 academic year to cover the cost of the 66 teachers who teach this subject in Secondary. Cantabria, which has also transferred the powers of religion teachers in Primary, spent 2.3 million in the same educational period.
Other communities that have also opted for transparency and have provided this data to elDiario.es have been the Balearic Islands, La Rioja and Asturias. The Government of Francina Armengol has provided the data for 2021. That year her education department paid 5.4 million euros for the salaries of employees who teach Catholic religion, to that amount must be added 40,607 euros for Islamic religion classes . Compared to the 93 students enrolled in this teaching, 22,394 attended the Catholic religion modality.
In Asturias (7.3 million euros) and La Rioja (3.7 million) the majority registration also occurs in the doctrine taught by the Episcopal Conference. In the 2021/22 academic year, the Government of the Principality had 35,242 students in the Catholic religion and 453 in the Evangelical religion. A dynamic similar to that of La Rioja, with 27,289 students in the first modality, 138 in the second and 604 in Islamic religion classes, according to data provided by the regional transparency portals.
As has happened with the financing that the Ministry of Education allocates to this item; If a sum of the data provided by the autonomous communities is made, the amount allocated by regional governments has not stopped growing. If in the 2016/17 academic year 166.4 million were invested, in 2020/21 – the last school period for which there is data from all regions – 205.4 million euros were paid.
This trend contrasts with the dynamic detected by the Episcopal Conference, since for the first time in more than 20 years the official figures of the ecclesiastical hierarchy confirm that the total number of students enrolled in this discipline in Infant, Primary, Secondary and Baccalaureate falls below 60 %. Data from the Ministry of Education also place the percentage of Primary students who choose this subject at historical lows. This parameter has gone from 83% in the 2000/01 academic year to 59.5% in 2020/2021.
To collect this information and find out the funding that each autonomous community allocates to pay the salaries of religion teachers, elDiario.es sent the same request to the transparency portals of the 17 autonomous communities several months ago. There are ten that have provided the information, although the Community of Madrid did not provide the global data that the regional government pays to cover this budget item.
The Canary Islands, Galicia, Castilla y León, Navarra and Euskadi responded to the request made by this newsroom, provided information on the number of teachers or students, but did not specify the annual cost or per school year required. On the other hand, Extremadura and Murcia directly rejected the request.
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