Juan Antonio Gómez Trinidad (La Zarza, 1959), professor of Philosophy, General Director of Education of the Government of La Rioja (1998-2008) and deputy in Congress for the Popular Party from 2008 to 2011. He is currently vice president of the Council State School and Director of the Area of the High Inspection of Education in La Rioja. He is in possession of the Cross of Alfonso X the Wise awarded by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Married and father of five children, he has two grandchildren.
– For 4 years he was a deputy for the Popular Party in Congress. What memories do you have of his time in national politics?
Being in the Congress of Deputies is an honor for any citizen. It allowed me to see, first-hand, parliamentary life, which has many more lights – and also shadows – than those usually broadcast by the media.
As I was a spokesperson for education, I had a more active experience, participating in educational debates both in the Commissions and in the Plenary. In that legislature I had to participate in the educational pact that was not finally signed although we did achieve a high degree of consensus with Minister Ángel Gabilondo.
– Since last year he has held the position of vice president of the State School Council. What are the functions of this organism?
The State School Council is the highest advisory body that advises the Government in relation to education. The different educational sectors are represented: parents, teachers, students, businessmen, etc., as well as a group of people of recognized prestige, which is the quota to which I belong.
The Council reports or rules on all draft regulations that are approved by Parliament, Government or Ministry of Education. In addition, it prepares an annual report on the state of the educational system, which includes proposals for improvements.
– And what is, in your opinion, the reality of the educational system?
First of all I have to say that it is increasingly difficult to talk about education in Spain as a global concept. If we stick to the indicators, both what is spent and the results, we could say that there are seventeen different systems in Spain: there are more differences between the Spanish Communities than between the EU countries.
But to continue with that statistical average, education in Spain is good, but not up to the circumstances and demands of the world in which we live. There are still worrying school dropout figures, a mismatch between the training offer and the job market, etc. And the most urgent and important thing remains pending: the reform of teacher training, selection and evaluation.
– He currently directs the High Inspection Area of La Rioja. What is your mission?
The High Inspection Area is an instrument that the State has to ensure that the equality of all citizens is met in the educational field as well as that the basic regulations, common for the entire State, in the different Autonomous Communities, are respected. .
Among other things, we also take care of the homologation of foreign studies so that they are recognized in Spain, as well as the recognition of signatures of Spanish degrees so that they are valid abroad.
– Do you consider a pact for education in Spain viable?
Viable and desirable, yes, but not very probable, as has been made clear in this second attempt at an educational pact. As long as education continues to be politicized and used as an ideological instrument, and not as a service to citizens who increasingly require preparation in a global and competitive world, it will not be possible.
Furthermore, we must remember that for there to be a pact for education in Spain, there must previously be a State pact on what it is, what it means and how we are going to administer Spain, something that lately seems to be unclear.
– After holding different positions of responsibility in the field of education both at the regional and national level, haven’t you missed teaching?
Yes of course. They say that all professions are important but some are essential, such as being a teacher. I have been fortunate to work in education from the classroom, from the Government, from Parliament or from the High Inspection. Of all of them, the most rewarding place is the classroom, direct contact with the student. What is most exciting is the meeting with former students. I have compensated for that longing through the talks, conferences and debates in which I constantly participate in different forums.
I am convinced that the teacher’s task will continue to be essential no matter how much the digital world advances. As D. Pennac says in “Bad School”: “One teacher – just one – is enough to save us from ourselves and make us forget everyone else! “
– After so many years away, what connection do you have with La Zarza?
Much and intense. First of all because it is my town, and somehow, in the adult that we are, the child that we were linked to memories and longings beats. La Zarza continues to be my place of return, after forty years living abroad, among other things because my mother and my brothers are there. In all my positions and responsibilities I have always boasted of my status as an Extremaduran and Zarceño.
– What memories do you have of your childhood and adolescence in our town?
Many and very intense. A more innocent, more natural world where personal encounters were common. La Ermita, my neighborhood, the newly built school – I was always in the one above -, or the soccer games where the fear of breaking the shoes and the absence of regulation balls were compensated by the illusion of being able to play in the era de la Piporra, in the Burriquero, or in the Hermitage itself.
Thousands of memories among which I highlight the summer nights without television on the fine blackboard, the traditional games with hardly any instruments beyond the ‘shooter’, ‘the hoop’, ‘the repión’… Too many memories to condense into a few lines .
– Where did you study?
Primary studies in La Zarza. Then he did the Elementary Baccalaureate in Almendralejo, and the higher education in Badajoz. I completed my university studies in Navarra where I began my professional life as an Institute Professor. Later I moved to La Rioja where I have lived for thirty years.
-What vision do you have of Extremadura in the distance?
I am not objective because I look at her with affection. I think that, like everything in this life, she can improve, but she has many values of all kinds. Among them, the human element is the most important.
Hopefully we will be able to transmit to new generations the past thanks to which we have become what we are and instill in them the enthusiasm and passion for doing things well and manage to transmit to them a better Extremadura than the one our parents left us.