Renewed calls for Education minister’s resignation

Renewed calls for Education minister’s resignation

After the unpopularity of the teachers’ test which floundered dismally just before Christmas, Education Minister Nuno Crato is in hot water once again – this time over remarks he made about teaching standards in Portugal’s polytechnics. ARIPESE – the association of reflection and intervention in educational policies in high schools – is demanding Crato’s dismissal. In a meeting today, association will also be calling for a “day in January” to be set aside for college chiefs to discuss the controversy caused by Crato’s comments, writes Público newspaper.

Crato’s gaff came during an interview with RTP 1 in which he was justifying the need for the unpopular teachers’ test which saw thousands in protest throughout the country – and which collapsed in disarray due to strike action on the day it was held.

Crato’s actual words were that there were “various failings” in the way teachers were trained. “There are teachers who receive their diplomas from universities and teachers who are trained by polytechnics that have different characteristics and very different standards of criteria”.

Asked if his doubts on teachers’ capabilities centred on those that had received their degrees from polytechnics, Crato answered: “In this particular case, my doubts do fall on these entities”.

As ARIPESE’s president Rui Matos pointed out, the comments certainly look as if Crato has a bee-in-his-bonnet over teaching standards in the country’s polytechnics. “But how does he know? Does he go to the classes?” Matos queried, talking to Público.

Despite Crato’s ministry repeatedly denying that the minister meant to target polytechnics, Matos considers there is “no alternative” now but to call for the dismissal of the education minister.

“We cannot trust a minister like this”, he is quoted as saying in Público today. “I do not think the country can trust a minister like this”.

As the controversy plays out, the country’s teachers await the new date in January for a re-run of the Prova de Avaliação that sparked nationwide protests. Fenprof, the teachers union, has repeatedly called for Crato’s resignation, saying he has “no conditions whatsoever to continue heading-up education” in Portugal.