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Our cooperative came into being in 1963. That year half a dozen families in Vitoria-Gasteiz got together and agreed to give their children an alternative education, substantially different to that being offered in conventional schools. Their idea was no more nor less than to give their support to an education in which Euskara, the Basque language, took the place denied it by the administration of the time. The initiative led to fourteen children beginning to study in an apartment in Cercas Bajas street under the tutorship of Izaskun Arrue, the first teacher in what is now Olabide school.


The initial hardships did not discourage the instigators of the idea as they were backed by a growing demand. This was in spite of the fact that there was no official recognition, institutional aid of any type nor existence as a legal entity and that public promotion was not allowed. Even so, in 1966-7 there were already 34 students involved in the project and in 67-68 the most optimistic forecasts were far exceeded when the school year started with 85 students, taught by three teachers. A forcedly clandestine organisation serving a hope, a project, was achieving real strength.



This growth encouraged the families involved to legalise the situation of the Ikastola as an educational institution. Contemporary circumstances, the last stage of Franco’s dictatorship, meant that our founders had to be very ingenious and well-organised. On 3rd. October 1968 they managed to achieve the recognition of “Aita Raimundo Olabide“ by the General Directorship for Primary Education of the then Ministry of Education and Science. Because of the rules and regulations of the educational system of the time there are lots of stories concerning official portraits and other objects of use in the schools of that era and the careful preparations that took place before any of the frequent inspections the new school finally passed.


This change in status signified the consolidation of the project and an extraordinary increase in the number of students, teaching and other staff and extension of the installations. To facilitate this process Olabide’s promoters created the company “Arriaga, S.A.” . The management had to rent three different buildings in the Avenida de Estibaliz and get them ready in record time for use by the students and teachers.


The most optimistic expectations were still being surpassed. The increase in student numbers was constant and the provisional solutions carried out to deal with this growth finally led in 1973 to our definitive educational project. On January 24th of that year the Ministry of Labour gave its approval to the constitution of a teaching cooperative. Under the name “Padre Raimundo Olabide” the cooperative was formed by the 360 families whose children made up the 496 students of the Ikastola. On April 12th 1972 the cooperative was formally constituted and immediate decisions were taken. 20,000m2 of land was bought near Lasarte and work started on the first building of our present installations. This was inaugurated on April 19th 1975.


There were still tremendous challenges, fundamentally of an economic nature, to be faced by the Olabide group before the school would become what it is today - the ikastola with most students in Alava. The economic crisis and inflation suffered in the 1970s had a profound and convulsive effect on the cooperative. But these difficulties were overcome thanks to the collaboration and enthusiasm of the cooperative members and management, the efforts of many associates and the invaluable assistance of the Basque Language Department of the Alava Provincial Council. Over the years Olabide was able to incorporate a High School and a Sixth Form and strengthen the Cultural and Sports clubs created to promote out-of-school activities. The school has gradually been provided with the buildings and equipment necessary to cope with its growth and the various needs created by the evolution of the educational sector in the last two decades. In 1983 the Zelaia building was opened, named after Juan Zelaia, whose collaboration was fundamental for this ambitious plan to be carried out. The founding and consolidation of the Basque institutions, the creation of the Basque Government Education Committee, the processes undertaken in order to strengthen and regularize the diverse legal and financial situations in which the ikastolas found themselves, the development of grant-aided education and, as always, the efforts of the people who form Olabide have made this possible - the seed sown by Izaskun Arrue’s pioneer experience is now a vigorous plant.



Our emblem represents Olabide Ikastola. It is visually easy to interpret and its visual strength underlines a potent message.

One form is the tree, of knowledge and of science. A tree that has given, is giving and will give fruit. A tree with two strong branches to indicate an essentially bilingual community.

The other form is the circle, incompletely drawn. It calls for the magic of our visual perception to come into being.

A fundamental shape which throughout the ages has signified unity, belonging to a group and idea, equality, fraternity, expressed in an embrace, in dance, in maternity... in everything that we reach out for with our hands and close round with our best wishes.

This is our space, a visual embrace which surrounds everything, the space where we exist and breathe life into our project.

And finally, at the base, the name of our Ikastola, the typography visually parallel to the image, in line and clarity.


PDF iconRaimundoOlabide.pdf PDF iconIzaskunArrue.pdf