Edition 1497
20 October 2018
Edition: 1497

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Botched start to a new school year

by Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 20-09-2018 09:48:00 · 0 Comments

Yet another new school year has got off to a shaky start after some students arrived at their schools only to find them still closed due to a lack of assisting staff, such as caretakers and hall monitors.

Botched start to a new school year

The 2018-2019 school year was due to start in earnest on Monday, but for some of the 1.5 million students due to return to classes this week, their first day back was far from full steam ahead as a number of schools remained closed due to a “chronic shortage of staff”.
Speaking to TSF, the president of the Association of Heads of Public Schools and School Groups (ANDAEP), Filinto Lima, said there are still “schools across the country that have not opened” because of staff shortages.
Mr. Lima said: “We must take a definite step towards resolving this problem, so that each year, the beginning of the school year can stop being news.
“It is urgent to change the law that allows the hiring of workers to replace those who have been on medical leave for months or even years”, he warned.
According to the association chief, the lack of operational assistants could have delayed the beginning of the school year at schools in Lisbon, Évora and Braga.
“Few schools are satisfied with the number of employees they have”, he warned, appealing to Finance Minister Mário Centeno: Try to realise once and for all that education is indeed very important. It is important the words become action”.
In Mr. Lima’s view, efforts by the Ministry of Education to hire an extra 2,000 assistants for primary and secondary schools are not enough.
The Secretary of State for Education acknowledged some “specific problems” in some schools earlier in the school year, but felt that they should not overshadow “many good” measures like free textbooks or efforts to bring teachers’ previously frozen career progression up to date.
State Secretary Alexandra Leitão acknowledged there is still a “long and difficult” path ahead, but highlighted the progress being made.
For most students however, the school year did begin on Monday, while teacher unions pledged to mark the start of the new school year with hundreds of plenary sessions across the country to discuss their ongoing struggles with the government with regard to the profession.
Without an end in sight to the long-standing wrangle, a strike has already been pencilled in for 1 to 4 October, followed by a national teachers’ protest in Lisbon on 5 October, a bank holiday which coincides with World Teacher’s Day.
The possibility of an October strike was touched upon back in July, by a union official for the Portuguese National Federation of Teachers, Fenprof.
Teachers’ main demands include the unfreezing of progressive pay for years of service, which was frozen in 2010 as part of the Troika’s bailout deal.
This comes following reports last week that teachers in Portugal’s schools tend to earn far more than university graduates working in other fields.
Data contained in the OECD report ‘Education at a Glance 2018’ showed that only teachers in Luxembourg earn more than those in Portugal, when measured in relation to workers with a similar educational level in their own country.
Greece’s teachers are in third place, with Germany’s and Finland’s in fourth and fifth.
In Portugal, teachers in primary and secondary education earn around 35 percent more than other graduate workers, while those in pre-school education earn 50 percent more, according to the report.

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Edition 1497
20 October 2018
Edition: 1497

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter

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