“Lisbon is not prepared for the rain”, complains minister

It has been a less than edifying week for the government. We have had a minister resign, then a secretary of state; the allegation that prime minister António Costa is paying a chum huge sums of money for consultancy work, and endless scare stories about Portugal’s financial doldrums. But with the heavens opening up and down the country, we now have the news that “Lisbon is not prepared for the rain”.

The capital city that has variously been voted one of the world’s “Most Romantic Cities”, the “Best Short Break Destination”, “A City to Visit with Friends” and “Best European Destination” cannot cope with a few drops of rain, it seems.

Arriving late for a meeting yesterday, Education Minister Tiago Brandão Rodrigues – the man apparently to blame for his secretary of state’s resignation earlier this week – said: “All it needs is a spot of rain and the city becomes a small confusion”.

Small confusion is perhaps the way to describe much of what has been going on in politics this week.

Rodrigues had been summoned to explain his new plan for primary and secondary school pupil evaluations. It’s a story that takes the concept of small to new heights.

Schools have to decide – by the end of the month – whether or not to set tests for the 2nd, 5th and 8th grades.

The tests will not affect the children’s progress to the level and the government has said it thinks schools should set them.

But the fact that schools have been given a choice appears to have incensed the opposition.

Thus Rodrigues’ need to cross Lisbon in the rain and explain himself.

As the nation’s ‘best-read tabloid’ Correio da Manhã concentrated more on the minister’s “irritation” with the elements, and how they play havoc with our capital city and all who try to get around it, it would seem journalists too consider the subject of school tests a bit of a damp squib.

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