Today thousands of children across our region go back to school after the holidays. Can you believe that 37% of state school students in Andalucia quit school before receiving even their most basic credentials? That is one of the highest drop out rates in Europe and something the Andalusian regional government is seeking to change. At the end of last year the most recent PISA study came out. That is an international study of education results in dozens of countries around the world. Researchers use test results from 15 year olds in participating countries to compare the effectivity of the different education systems. Spain came out below the European average with Andalucian schools at the bottom of the different regional systems in this country. Students at private schools inevitably performed better than those at public facilities. It is good news then that as of this year, 2008, the Junta de Andalucia is offering a brand new incentive package to state school teachers who help their students achieve better results - and reach EU standards. But - ojo! (look out!) - as they say in Spanish, only teachers at participating schools will be eligible for these monetary incentives. Therefore, considering that parents are supposed to be able to choose their children's school, it would be a good idea to find out whether or not a centre participates before enrolling a child. But on to lighter subjects. This second week of January the sales are on full force. Would you believe that January 8th saw 2.5 million Spaniards spend their national holiday mobbing stores throughout the country in order to be the very first to check out discounts of up to 50% off? Spaniards are expected to spend 120,00 Euros per person on the sales, but that figure drops to 105,00 euros per person in Andalucia. Would that be due to less spending power or better prices? Better get on over to the sales to find out for yourself!