Research Papers

Research Paper on Spain vs USA

1. Introduction to the countries.
Out of a total of 580,825 square kilometers, Spain occupies four fifths of the Peninsula. It borders to the North on the Bay of Biscay, France and Andorra; to the East, on the Mediterranean; to the South, on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, and to the West on the Atlantic and Portugal. In July 2004 its population numbers 40,280,780 people. Spain is a pragmatic and modern country, with a quickly developing economy. It went out on the large European arena not much ago. It attracts more and more foreign students. Art, design, commerce and management studied in the Spanish universities conquer world prestige. GDP – real growth rate – in 2003 was 2,4%. GDP – composition by sector is the following: agriculture: 3.6%, industry: 28.6%, services: 67.8% (including education). Spain’s economy supports a GDP that on a per capita basis is 80%. And this makes it one of the four leading West European economies.

United States are situated between Canada and Mexico and border both the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean. It is world’s third-largest country by size (after Russia and Canada) and by population (after China and India). The population is 293,027,571 (July 2004). The United States have the largest economy by country, second-largest by economic union (after the EU). The economy is the most technologically powerful one in the world, with a per capita GPR of $39,689 in 2004. GDP – composition by sector is agriculture: 1.4%, industry: 26.2%, services: 72.5%. (National Center for Education Statistics)

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2. Comparison of the social welfare policy in education.
Social welfare policy of education in Spain and United States covers capital expenditures consisted in purchase of equipment, construction, renovation, and current expenditures included goods and services that are renewed the current year. There are also such expenditures as staff salaries, teaching materials, welfare services, insurance and others.

In 2000 the proportion of GDP spent on higher education is the following: in Spain – 1,2 % and in United States – 2,7%.

The level of enrollment and people’s literacy can examine the effectiveness of social policy in education. That’s why here is proposed a summary chart showing these indices.

That the level of tertiary enrollment in both countries is the lowest can be explained by the fact that primary and secondary education is compulsory. And after receiving certificates pupils can rather continue their education or start working.
(all statistic data – in human development reports)

3. Discussion of findings.
In Spain educational responsibilities are divided between the Central Government and the Autonomous Communities. Spanish Autonomous Communities are under the coordination of the Ministry for Education and Science (MEC). It is the Central Educational Administration in Spain. Autonomous Communities include responsibility for education institutions teaching staff, technical inspection services, as well as the administration and implementation of state provisions for the planning and regulation of levels of education,. Education funding comes from both public and private sources. Public funds are contributed by the MEC, by the Autonomous Communities and by local authorities. Private funding is provided by families and other entities responsible for paying private educational costs. MEC has a lot functions, namely promulgation and implementation of basic guidelines, working out of the fundamental principle of the right to education, planning of investment in education and others. (Charles F Gallanger, 2000).

Education in the United States is highly decentralized. Funding and curriculum decisions are made mostly at the local level. Though the federal government through the U.S. Department od Education is involved with funding of some programs and exerts some influence through its ability to control funding, but indeed it does not operate schools. There is no national education system or national curriculum in the United States. Each of the states has its own Department of Education, which sets guidelines for the schools of that state. Public colleges and universities receive funding from student tuition and the state in which they are located. Most of the control of American schools is in the hands of each local school district. Each school district is governed by a school board.

According to these facts I suppose that spanish system of education is a bit better. As there is one central body – MEC that rules, determines norms, regulates,corrects the activities of subordinate bodies. That makes educational system work more effectively. And in United states there is no body accomplished all these functions. All control and coordination are realized at local level.

4. Improvements for a better system.
In my opinion there are several improvements that should be recommended to improve the educational system in the United States. First of all, in order to make it more equitable and fair, admission fees should be reduced. The matter is that high education is very prestigious in United States but not everyone can afford it. In order to improve this situation I would propose to increase government expenditure on high education.

To my mind another weak point of American educational system is that applied sciences are of greater value than abstract ones. The main idea of education is life adjustment education. But I think that there are some other important things to be taught: capacity of self-esteeming critically, of being wise in different situations, etc. I mean that a person should possess certain knowledge and skills, but at the same time he should develop certain personal qualities, his individuality. This can make the education more balanced and effective. Another aspect to be improved is to make education more standardized, more coordinated. The central body – Department of Education – should regulate the work of educational institutions, establish common rules for everyone to avoid contradictions that exist in different states. It is also important to regulate how courses are taught and what material needs to be taught at what level. (Davidson 1999).

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