In a rare agreement between politicians from all political parties in Spain, Wednesday saw plans to go ahead to introduce chess into the Spanish education system. Following the recommendations of the European Parliament, chess is to become a compulsory subject for Spanish schoolchildren.
The proposal was put forward by Pablo Martín from the Socialist party (PSOE), who explained that playing chess in school is very beneficial to the learning process.
El País quotes Martín as saying that the game “improves memory and strategic capacity, teaches students to make decisions under high pressure and develops concentration, with a very low economic cost.”
— Sonya Dowsett (@ReutersSonyaD) February 12, 2015
Francisco Cabrera from the ruling Popular Party pointed out to the other politicians the importance of chess in Spain, saying,”remember the great importance of Spain in the history and evolution of chess and that modern chess, with its current rules, was invented in Spain around 500 years ago.”
“Ours is the country that organizes the most international tournaments since 1988.”
Cabrera also brought up studies that have been run in Germany which showed the performance of chess-playing students “has improved 17 percent on average.”
Politicians from the Grupo Catalan (a group comprising Catalan party representatives) said the Catalonia region had recently promoted a study on the educational benefits of playing chess. Their study showed that students who play chess have a higher level of intellectual development across a range of parameters. Those students also showed dramatic improvement in their math and reading skills.
The Local quoted Carme Sayós, spokeswoman for the Catalan Group in Congress, as saying that they have already seen the benefits of playing chess in schools in that region.
“We support teaching chess during school hours, as is in fact already the case at many Catalan schools, with very satisfactory results.”
Caridad García, speaking for the United Left party, mentioned her desire that “soon something similar will happen with philosophy, music and the arts.”
Isabel Sánchez Robles, representative for the Basque region, called chess “a strategic investment in the future.”
Spanish Parliament set to vote for chess in schools http://t.co/aJJGCcrGRW
— times chess (@Times_Chess) February 10, 2015
Now that Spanish politicians have agreed on the step, the non-binding resolution will need to be debated by the Ministry of Education, which will have the final say in the matter as it has representatives from all of Spain’s autonomous communities.
In fact, Spanish Chess Federation president Javier Ochoa de Echagüen, was present in Congress when the agreement was made and has already requested an interview with Education Minister José Ignacio Wert to get things going.
Reportedly, the PSOE party is planning to also introduce chess as a rehabilitation tool in prisons and health centers.
In other education news, Inquisitr recently reported on the viral story of an undated, anonymous letter from a frustrated teacher apologizing to their “21st century” high school students.
[Image: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Ulrik Slot Christensen]