Roughly 40,000 students restart classes without having all their teachers.

The National Federation of Teachers (Fenprof) reported a challenging start to classes for approximately 40,000 students today due to the unavailability of all their teachers.

Mário Nogueira, Fenprof’s general secretary, highlighted that in early December, around 32,000 students faced incomplete teaching staff, which worsened in the last month of the year.

During this period, 371 teachers retired, and an additional 434 are expected to retire in January. The shortfall in teaching staff has severe repercussions, particularly for nearly 2,000 students who lack a teacher for a subject they’ve never had lessons in since the start of the academic year. This deficiency makes it nearly impossible for many students to catch up, leading to roughly three months without classes and perpetuating social and financial inequalities among families.

Nogueira criticised the temporary solution of employing non-professional graduates as teachers, reintroduced by the Ministry of Education after years of disuse. Approximately 200,000 students are affected by the absence of fully qualified teachers, with subjects like computer science, Portuguese, history, and mathematics (at the 3rd cycle and secondary education levels) being the most affected, according to Fenprof’s estimations.

Nogueira proposed addressing the issue by reintegrating 20,000 previously employed teachers into the profession, prioritising improvements in job conditions and eradicating employment uncertainties. The survey revealed that 22.6% of the 208 schools surveyed were unable to fill their teaching vacancies during the first term, and only 41.3% managed to complete their staff by the end of September.

This situation was highlighted on a day when “Teacher” was announced as the word of the year by Porto Editora, an acknowledgment that Fenprof sees as a tribute to the invaluable role of educators in Portugal.

Roberto Silva

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