An OECD study comparing the level of segregation in education in 50 countries – based on the socioeconomic status of pupils – has pegged Portugal in the top 10.
Say reports, this means Portugal is one of the countries with the most private schools ‘only for the rich’.
The difference between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is “impressive”, says the study, which has seen the director-general of the association of the country’s private schools fire a broadside.
According to Rodrigo Queirós e Melo the imbalance is all down to the government which has “ended the majority of contracts of association” that it used to have with private educational establishments.
As a result, many families now pay monthly school fees in full “contrary to other countries where private education is financed in a large part or even totally by the State”.
Explains Jornal Económico, dozens of private schools used to enjoy contracts of association forged in the 80s to guarantee free places for certain students.
These “contracts have been reduced to the point that finance is only attributed to schools situated in areas where there is no public (State-run) alternative”.
Thus in the opinion of Queirós e Melo, the Portuguese State is guilty of “reinforcing the elitist character of private education”.