The Catalan Education Department says that it has received a significant increase in applications from young people wanting to do higher education courses (read article in Catalan here, Avui). More than 37,000 people, mainly aged between 17 and 25 years, have registered to take part in admission tests for courses starting next year in professional training (formació professional), art and design and sports education. This figure is 16 percent higher than in 2009 and is likely to be due, at least in part, to the current financial crisis, although the director general of Professional, Artistic and Specialised Training, Josep Francí, said that some people had decided to apply because they had come to realise the value of getting an official qualification after having left formal education at a young age. Francí also said that since 2004, the number of people applying to do these courses via the admission test system had tripled. The admission option via tests is an option that has been put in place for those people who don’t have the necessary school qualification of the ESO or batxillerat to directly enter the courses, but are keen to restart their educational career.
Sources close to the Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, are reported to be annoyed with the attitude of Catalan president José Montilla in insisting on a renewal of the members of the Constitutional Court (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Montilla is concerned by the inability of the court to reach agreement over its sentencing regarding the new version of the Catalan Statute and the various appeals that have been brought against it by the Spanish opposition party, the Partido Popular (PP). The Constitutional Court currently has four members whose mandate ran out over two years ago, but the leading Spanish parties of the PSOE and PP have said they don’t want to renew the mandates or nominate new members while the current court continues to discuss the Statute. Following meetings by the court last week, which again failed to pass a sentence, Catalan politicians have stepped up their pressure on the Spanish parties to take action to break the deadlock, which has seen the Constitutional Court discuss the issue for almost four years without making a decision. The spokesman for the Catalan CiU party in the Spanish Congress, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, yesterday proposed that all Catalan members of the parliament sign an initiative to change the law of the Constitutional Court which would make it obligatory for members to have their mandate renewed or be replaced within six months of the end of their term on the court.
A revision of the Spanish penal code, which will be voted on today by the justice commission of the Spanish congress, includes various measures requested by Catalan parties to help deal with pickpockets and petty thieves (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The main feature, included at the request of CiU as a condition for voting in favour of the revision, is the creation of a register of crimes that will allow judges to know if the person they are trying for a robbery misdemeanour is a professional thief with a long history of committing such crimes; the list will be prepared by each autonomous community and should be prepared within a year of the new version of the law being passed. In those cases where someone is found guilty of robbery and is a repeat offender, they could be sentenced to a form of house arrest of up to six months. If the judge believes that the criminal is not going to adhere the terms of such a sentence, he could instead opt for a sentence that would see the guilty party have to serve jail time at weekends or on public holidays; the reason why these days have been chosen is to avoid over-crowding in prisons.
Also in the news: Ex-Olympics president Juan Antonio Samaranch seriously ill in Barcelona hospital (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Spain won’t have a law regarding the wearing of veils in schools (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Barça suffer 3-1 defeat in Milan despite taking lead thanks to Pedro (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico).