PSD wants Government to negotiate length of service with teachers

This Wednesday, the PSD takes to votes in Parliament five initiatives aimed at the “main problems” in education, including a recommendation to the Government to negotiate with the unions the recovery of teachers’ service time, refusing to interfere in this process.

“The PSD is concerned about what is happening with the education sector and with the future of public schools. (…) After seven years of PS governance, none of the fundamental issues that affect education have been resolved, we can only conclude that education is not a priority for the Government”, said deputy António Cunha, PSD coordinator in the parliamentary committee on Education and Science, in statements to Lusa.

The Social Democrat deputy considered that, in the last seven years, “there was nothing about career restructuring, the recruitment of teachers or the reduction of bureaucracy in the career, about initial teacher training or about how to make this career more attractive for young people” .

“It is frightening that, in our country, almost nobody wants to be a teacher. We are concerned, and in what way, the time bomb that will be the brutal lack of teachers in the coming years”, he said, referring that, in the last two years, there are already “thousands of students” who spend a whole year without a teacher in a subject.

On the other hand, the deputy highlighted the PSD’s concern with the recovery of learning after the covid-19 pandemic.

“No one knows how it is going, are the students recovering their learning or not? There are no results to be compared from 2016, the whole wealth of information that the country had in the end of cycle tests, the Government ended it everything,” he criticized.

Calibration tests and length of service

Therefore, one of the five diplomas that the PSD takes to the votes this Wednesday — and the only one in the form of a bill intends to reintroduce assessment tests, of universal and mandatory application, at the end of the 4th and 6th years of schooling (the classifications obtained may be used to weight the final classification, according to the option of the school or group of schools ) and eliminating those that currently exist in the 2nd, 5th and 8th years of schooling.

As for the recovery of teachers’ service time, an issue that continues to divide the Government and unions, the Social Democrats include the issue in a resolution (without the force of law), in which they recommend to the executive a set of urgent measures in the education sector , including a negotiation process with teachers “to recover the missing service time” and to create conditions “to eliminate vacancies for access to the 5th and 7th grades, a tourniquet that does not exist in other grades” .

“We do not interfere in the negotiations between unions and the Government, but we think that a negotiation process must be started with the structures so that possibilities are seen to recover the missing service time”, justified António Cunha.

For the PSD deputy, the most recent statements by the Minister of Education, João Costa, open to “career enhancements”, demonstrate that this PSD position, as well as the demonstrations and strikes in the sector, “will force the Government to sit down with the unions”.

“The public school cannot continue to live in this state of siege”, he said, arguing that these measures should also include valuing salaries at the beginning of the teachers’ career to make it more attractive.

The PSD also presents recommendations to the Government to reinforce “the effectiveness, duration and financing of learning recovery measures”, reduce the bureaucratic burden currently assigned to teachers and to increase, in the State Budget for 2024, the allocation for School Social Action .

“Life is not easy for the Portuguese and Acção Social Escolar has as its main objective to combat social exclusion. The PSD recommends a greater coverage in the number of students”, he said, exemplifying that, currently, a couple with a child in which the two elements receive the minimum wage “is not entitled to any contribution”.

Proposals from IL and Livre

In addition to the PSD’s five diplomas, Iniciativa Liberal (IL) and Livre also bring their own projects on education to the debate, in a total of 12 initiatives between the three benches.

Like the PSD, the IL proposes the reintroduction of assessment tests in the final years of each cycle of basic education, reintroducing them in the 4th and 6th years, and recommends that the Government expand the learning recovery plan.

Among the resolutions, the liberals also want a reassessment of the decision to digitize the final tests of the cycle in the 9th year of schooling, that compliance with the intervention program for school buildings be verified and that more autonomy be given to teaching private and cooperative for hiring teachers.

The Free party will debate a bill that sets maximum numbers of students in pre-school classes and at various levels of education — between 18 and 20 students, depending on the year of schooling (but which can be even more reduced due to special circumstances) — and a resolution for the Government to guarantee all teachers who are placed more than 60 kilometers from their residence “fair payment of housing and transport allowances”.

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