João Costa says public school does a lot and does it well

The Minister of Education, João Costa, considers that it is time to speak about Portuguese schools for their successes and to promote “education for peace”, which has never been more relevant than today. According to him, the public school does a lot and does it well”.

João Costa was speaking at the opening of the 2nd National Meeting on Curricular Autonomy and Flexibility, on May 24 at the Europarque Congress Center, in front of around 700 people linked to the national education system.

“Enough of drawing a portrait of the Portuguese school that does not correspond to reality. It seems that they are always looking for what is wrong, ignoring that every day in our schools there are 1,300,000 children learning and 100,000 teachers teaching, and things are going well,” he said. he declares.

For the manager, the greatest proof of this success is expressed in quantifiable results: “We have historic levels of school dropouts, with a rapid and sustained reduction. We have historic levels of academic achievement and we don’t [esse percurso] with the work of reducing learning – we do it with this motto (…) to be more and more demanding on the quality of learning”.

The minister said “the days of the touch-and-run program are over, take it today, charge it tomorrow, forget it the day after tomorrow”, saying that nowadays schools offer “a much more challenging and challenging program, in which to teach not only things that are learned and known, but also reasoning, problem solving, [a capacidade de] think critically and create”.

It is in this context that João Costa underlined “the important role of education for peace”, a subject whose approach, in the program of the event, was also reserved for the Minister of Defence. “We are living in strange times, a time of war – a war that has returned to Europe when we thought it would be impossible,” noted the sovereign.

Considering that the pupils were “bombarded every day with war news”, the official said: “It has never been more relevant to introduce peace into the vocabulary of schools”.

João Costa then linked educational success and its role in the so-called “social elevator” with the issue of mental health in schools, in connection with the study “School Observatory: monitoring and action – Health and well -being psychological”, which, commissioned by the Ministry of Education and involving several entities, this week revealed disturbing data on the survey of more than 8,000 students and 1,400 teachers from kindergarten to terminale.

“The main challenge remains that of fairness. Despite all our successes and our transformations, we continue to have socio-economic inequalities as the main predictor of failure,” said the minister, admitting that “many causes are outside of school”, but assuring that ” success is built outside and inside” the school. educational institutions.

Recommending that school flexibility be considered “as a tool for better learning and greater inclusion”, João Costa indicated the study of emotional well-being in an educational context as one of the new instruments he intends to use. to support the decisions of his ministry. in concrete indicators “and not in conjectures or opinions”.

“Realizing that mental health has been heavily impacted by the pandemic, knowing that mental health is a predictor of how we learn, means having a responsibility to collect this data and we will do this periodically, every two years,” said he announced. .

Along the same lines, two other measures were already influenced by the conclusions of the aforementioned study: “We decided to extend the personal, social and community development plans for the next school year, which, during the meetings we had with school principals, were repeatedly mentioned as having a great impact. We will also, in partnership with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, train schools with scientifically validated materials to work with these dimensions”.

João Costa insisted that it is no longer necessary “to go to distant countries to see a modern and contemporary education system” because “Portuguese public schools are doing a lot and very well”, but warned that mental health is not an additional subject in the curriculum. “It’s not off the curriculum – it’s the curriculum, because when we work on motivation, we work on the willingness to learn,” he concluded.

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