The ridiculous situation that sees legions of the country’s teachers “allocated schools over 100 kms from their homes” has resulted in habitual chaos as the school year gets properly underway.
“Hundreds have put in for sick leave”, reports tabloid Correio da Manhã today, explaining that the situation has forced the government to hire substitute teachers – thus incurring heavy financial outlay.
As a spokeswoman for the “Luta por um concurso mais justo” (loosely translated as ‘Struggle for a fairer form of allocation’) explained: “The Ministry of Education, in trying to save pennies, will have to pay a heavy final bill”.
The dilemma was highlighted as the country prepared to start the new academic year (click here).
Hopes then were that the education ministry would relent, and reorganise rosters so that working mothers were not faced with the impossible prospect of travelling up to 300 kms a day in order to balance work life and the needs of their growing families.
But the push, backed by teachers’ unions, was unsuccessful, and the knock-on effect now is hundreds of ‘empty spaces’ in schools up and down the country.
President of the national association of school governors Filinto Lima told CM that the sick leave cannot be considered to be “false” in any way, given that doctors are certifying the requests of people experiencing a “bad time, in mental and intellectual terms.
“Medical certificates (backing sick leave) apply just as much to physical, psychological and social constraints”, he said.
As to numbers, it ‘gets a bit vague’.
According to teachers, as many as 8000 are affected by the ‘unjust’ allocations. Elsewhere, 140 are involved in ‘mass court actions’ to try and block them.
In the Algarve, parents of children at Silves’ EB1 at Tunes are reported to have raised a petition calling for the placement of “a definitive teacher” for the third year, as well as the hiring of another school janitor.
The petition also alludes to confusion persisting over the school manuals to be used.
For now, the Ministry of Education has “not responded” to CM’s queries over how many sick notes it may have received since term time got underway mid-September, though it has confirmed to TSF radio that it is the subject of six court actions – not specifying what these are about.