Back to School… with tranquility
João Costa answering questions earlier this summer. Image: Miguel A. Lopes/ Lusa

Back to School… with tranquility

Education minister warns however that there should be no illusions

“Tranquility”: it’s one of those words people who have just had their homes/ offices raided by police often choose to describe the form in which they await ‘the next step’. Thus it’s something of an omen that it is the adjective used by education minister João Costa for the opening of the new school year.

He told reporters that he hopes to have a start of the year “with tranquility” but adds “there can be no illusions” as “every academic year there are always needs of teachers that arise…”

“We know that unfortunately, not only in Portugal but throughout the European Union, there are difficulties in replacing teachers. But, with the various measures that we have been developing since the end of the school year last year, we are doing everything to mitigate the shortages that exist,” he assured.

The official return of Portugal’s schools after the long summer break starts on September 13, albeit schools usually take a few days to actually start classes in earnest.

As for the rest, explains Lusa, referring to “the organisation of classes, the work that municipalities are doing with decentralisation, educational support for students, and school transport, the minister said that everything “is running smoothly”. He hopes for “great normality and tranquility”, he repeated. Recruitment (of teachers…) is “still in progress”, with various stages of recruitment planned.

“This will allow us to respond to the new needs that are arising, substituting timetables, of some sick leave that has already been taken, and do what we have already started to do, which is whenever there are no teacher candidates in any territory, we send the timetables that are available for school contracting”, he said (none of this will make much sense to anyone who hasn’t already experienced ‘the start of a new school year’, tranquil or otherwise).

The minister said the most worrying regions (in terms of ‘missing teachers’) are the south of the country, particularly Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo and the Algarve. (This has been the case for the last three decades, if not more. It is in fact the habitual September ‘lament’).

“We have also done something, in the first reserve and we will continue to do as had been my commitment, which is to take those incomplete schedules that had no candidate, complete them so that teacher candidates who presented themselves only available for full schedules could fill them,” said the minister (again, this will make little sense to anyone without prior experience of the normality and tranquility of the start of an academic year in Portugal).

Mr Costa stressed that about 200 timetables “that were without teachers have now been filled”.

“We are doing this management until the start of the school year so that we can then assess the needs that exist,” he concluded.

Source: LUSA