Portugal: State of the nation – PM announces €900M to promote ‘school success’

Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, on Wednesday announced over €900 million for programs to promote school success in the next two academic years and advanced that the government proposed an agenda for job security.

These two lines of action were transmitted by Costa in the first part of his speech that opened the debate on the state of the nation, in a chapter that he dedicated to the recovery of the country after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The suspension of face-to-face teaching activities affected the learning process of many and accentuated inequalities. It is therefore essential to execute, over the next two school years, an ambitious Learning Recovery Plan,” he said.

According to Costa, the plan foresees, on the one hand, greater pedagogical autonomy of schools, in the organisation of the school calendar, the adaptation of the curriculum and the flexible management of classes.

“On the other hand, an increase in the number of teachers and specialised technicians in schools is foreseen, by boosting hourly credits and widening of tutoring programmes to support pupils with greater difficulties. In total, between increasing human resources, their continuous training, investment in new digital resources and the equipping of schools, we will invest, over the next two years, around €900 million to promote school success and to ensure that this generation is not harmed or irreparably marked by Covid-19,” he said.

Afterwards, Costa advocated that the pandemic highlighted the need to better regulate remote working and work on digital platforms, and, on the other, the enormous social unprotection that job insecurity entails.

“Let us be clear: for example, temporary work companies are an instrument of flexibility, but they cannot be an instrument of job insecurity,” he said.

Costa then stated the minister of Labour, Ana Mendes Godinho, presented to the Permanent Council of Social Concertation the government’s “Agenda for Decent Work”, which aims to put an end to many situations of abuse of job security.

“The great challenge ahead of us is to recover from this pandemic crisis while solving the structural problems that affect the competitiveness of our economy and addressing the vulnerabilities of our society.  We have to come out of this crisis stronger, to go further and faster in converging with the more developed countries of the European Union. The path to convergence is clear: more skills, more innovation, more goods and services with higher added value, ensuring greater competitiveness and more and better jobs,” he said.