LABoral tackles school dropout

When art centres and administrations work for progress in educational models.

Published: Mar 25, 2013
LABoral tackles school dropout

Design and fabrication of the placard for the “Diver 4º” [4th Year Diversification students] classroom at the Rey Pelayo de Cangas de Onís Secondary School

By José Luis Calderón, Nicola Mariani Arte y Sociedad

Do we know how to motivate teenagers in their education? Are we concerned about discovering their hidden skills or finding out about their specific needs? Do we know what the curriculum diversification programmes are and what they consist of and the use of new technologies in educational systems? What role can an art centre play in improving all the above? If we can only half answer these questions, it might be useful to know what is brewing at LABoral in the Programme for the Prevention of School Dropout by the Department of Vocational Education, Curriculum Development and Innovation of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of the Principality of Asturias.

First of all, we should be aware of something even more important and serious: the school dropout rate in Spain stands at around 32%, one of the highest in Europe. According to figures provided by UNESCO at the end of last year, one in three Spanish teenagers drop out of school before completing “ESO” [the Spanish Secondary School Leaving Certificate] [1]. The same report points out that these youths find themselves in the predicament of wasting their potential and that one of the biggest challenges facing Europe in this regard is “to teach adequate professional skills to youths (…) and the ability to adapt to new technologies”.

Aiming to encourage these youths with “special needs” in their learning, LABoral joined the school dropout prevention programme last year – as one of the many educational programmes in the Education area of LABoral - in this case, aimed at secondary school students in the diversification programmes from 12 Asturian educational centres. As part of this Lucía Arias and the rest of the LABoral team work hand in hand with the administrations and institutions, analysing the problems close-up and providing possible solutions.


For all those who may not know curriculum diversification is a different way of taking classes in some subjects in compulsory secondary education for pupils who for particular reasons (among which, or ultimately, academic failure), it is considered appropriate that they follow another programme or course in some subjects. Although this has been underway in some autonomous regions for some time, it was only regulated by the former Ministry of Education a little more than five years ago. In these cases it is about turning diversity into fun (divertido in Spanish), with the ultimate purpose of making the students feel useful. This is why these programmes are commonly known as “diver” [fun] in Spanish, as that is in fact what they are.

There is also little known about the role that art centres can perform as generators of these educational alternatives. In this case, LABoral is increasingly becoming the ideal space in Asturias for learning about ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies), using the actual facilities of this art centre. But what are the areas of work carried out by these teenagers at LABoral?

Susanna Tesconi and David Pello teach these young people object design and its digital fabrication at fabLAB, the fabrication laboratory at LABoral. They do so along several lines in teaching activities which are given throughout the school year. Students are taught how to computer design different objects and then learn to physically fabricate the designed objects, generally from recycled materials using different machinery at fabLAB, such as the “Diver” pupils of the Rey Pelayo de Cangas de Onís secondary school, who made here the placard for their school classroom. One of FABlab’s central machines is the 3D printer which fascinated not only the students, but also the teachers, who are trained previously by Susanna and David so as to get to know these tools and be involved in this project along with the secondary school students.

Audiovisual creation is another educational programme taking place at LABoral for these teenagers. TV-LAB (a kind of television studio at LABoral) is the setting in this case – quite literally – in which young people with curriculum or concentration difficulties learn both how to operate the technical equipment used in television studios, and also, how to film, produce and edit video-clips and other audiovisual formats. This allows them to focus their attention on more dynamic and less intellectually-challenging activities that are linked to audiovisual language which is closer to today’s television. They also receive the technical tools and necessary practice from their teachers, Daniel Miracle and Pía Capisano, who make up the collective and teach these workshops. Some of the students’ works, including their own version of “Harlem Shake”, can be seen on this link.


Creative programming by computer is the third of these lines of work against early school leaving. In this case, David Dalmazzo, technical manager at LABoral, is the person who gives these workshops in which the students gain the basic skills to begin programming a computer, playing with images and sound in a creative way, from experimentation to self-learning.

We can say without hesitation that an up-to-date knowledge of the latest technologies is absolutely necessary in order to advance and be adequately educated in contemporary society. And although it seems that the Spanish educational system is adapting “adequately” to the use and teaching of ICTs in classrooms, there is still a great deal to be done on this matter, given that if these technologies are characterised by something, it is by their change and constant renewal. And it is frequently in these ICTs where the programmes tackling school dropout have one of their best assets precisely due to the interest that teenagers have for them. Let us hope that these “ad hoc” education opportunities in art centres continue to be more and more supported, since we can all contribute in this commitment to education.

For information on visits to LABoral, contact:

985 185 577 or 985 331 907

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  • 33203 Gijón (Asturias)
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