Enormous brouhaha has erupted over the Portuguese government’s €139 million funding of private colleges in which thousands of children are enrolled.
According to many news sources, the PS executive is preparing to slash its substantial cash support and this “could affect 9000 pupils and stop the opening of 300 classes”.
President Marcelo has become involved in the controversy that has seen angry parents protesting in the streets, saying he hopes the issue will be sorted to everyone’s advantage quickly – while PM António Costa has retorted that the “president is not the Queen”.
But the nitty-gritty of the issue remains unclear. ‘Why is the State funding private education anyway?’ is the question on many people’s minds, with national tabloid Correio da Manhã explaining this morning that funding runs to €80,500 per class, with a global class number of 1731 in 79 colleges.
That total, in monetary terms comes to €139,345,500 – a figure that would be welcomed by the state education sector for much-needed improvements and any number of other projects.
As Manuel Pereira of the national association of schools directors explained: “The State system has the space for 70 per cent more pupils. It really isn’t fair to defend the private sector and denigrate state schools”.
Be that as it may, there are areas in the country where State schools are at bursting point and would be incapable of absorbing children from nearby private colleges.
According to reports, in these cases the colleges may well be reprieved.
But what is certain is that the government is reviewing the money ploughed annually into state-subsidised private schools and deciding whether it is really money well spent.