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The director of the Cervantes Institute, Luis García Montero, has announced that he has the support of his minister, José Manuel Albares, to continue in office during the next legislature. "The minister told me 'we will continue' and I have felt supported," García Montero explained.

The Cervantes Institute, the state institution dedicated to the teaching of Spanish languages abroad, held this morning the annual meeting of its Board of Trustees, in the presence of the King and Queen of Spain, the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, Minister Albares and his colleagues for Education and Culture, Pilar Alegría and Ernest Urtasun. respectively. Hours before that meeting, the Institute's management spoke to the media to summarize the content of this annual meeting, which García Montero presented as a summary of the work done during the last legislature.

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  • Written by: LUIS ALEMANY

The eternal fight for Alberti: García Montero charges against the widow and Anna Caballé calls him a "political commissar"

The accounts of the director of the Cervantes are optimistic: budget transfers from the State to the Institute in 2023 were 81 million euros, 25% higher than the 2018 figure, but still below the 90.3 million of 2009. The Institute maintains a more or less stable self-financing capacity, of 40% of its budget, and, in the outgoing year, it also added an extraordinary income of 20 million from the PERTE of the New Language Economy. That income has allowed it to expand its online educational offer and create the Spanish Observatory. Cervantes expects to increase the budget transfer next year to 91 million.

And another important fact: the number of activities aimed at promoting the co-official languages of Spain has increased by 225% in this legislature.

"My first act as director of the Cervantes was a trip to Brussels," García Montero explained. "I was very surprised because the center in which I was received was not the building I had visited on a couple of previous visits. They explained to me that the Cervantes had had to sell that building to the Ethiopian government in order to balance their budgets." That example, according to the director of the Institute, contrasts with the current panorama. The Cervantes has inaugurated its first headquarters since the years of the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Seoul, Dakar and Los Angeles have Cervantes centres, which have also expanded their network in other cities through extensions and collaboration agreements. The Institute's workforce has stabilised and grown slightly after shrinking by 16% following the crisis and the situation of its second-class employees, those who do not have Spanish contracts, is in the process of being regularised. Cultural activity is at an all-time high and student numbers are approaching pre-pandemic levels. In the last academic year, Cervantes had 132,776 enrolments, 12% more than the previous year.

The educational challenges? First, expand the number of countries that offer Spanish as a subject in their education programs; second, to be able to train enough Spanish teachers for this growing demand and to improve online training content; and third, to extend the demand for level certificates, which prevent the Spanish language from appearing in the programs but being considered by their students as a subject that is not very relevant, "a maria".

García Montero believes that Cervantes does a lot with few resources. It compares its annual budget (€143 million) with the investment received by its counterparts in other languages: both the Alliance Française and the Goethe Institute receive more than €300 million from their governments. The director of the Institute made an ideological reading of this inequality: "There is a habit of despising culture, it seems that it is the poor sister. There is a right wing that says that culture sucks the pot. It's not true, no one sucks from the pot. I am against any clientelism just as I am against any form of censorship."

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