More than 50,000 teachers have been marching through the streets of Lisbon to protest against the socialist government’s plans to shake up Portugal’s education system.
European, national and local elections are being held this year and the teachers claim to have overwhelming public and cross-party support for their campaign. Union leader Mário Nogueira said: “We can’t accept that the next parlimentary term will work in the framework of an absolute majority, because there are some people – like the prime minister and the education minister who don’t know how to govern with an absolute majority.” The teachers want to force the abandonment of an evaluation system aimed at assessing their effectiveness. But the government’s standing firm. The Minister for Education, Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues said: “The electoral period we are currently in, which is set to continue for some time, is an excellent opportunity for all political parties to take a position and explain to the Portuguese population what they think about concrete and objective aspects of the education policy.” The issue looks set to play a significant role in the result of the national election scheduled for September. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in a series of strikes and rallies aimed at changing the government’s plans which ministers say will improve the quality of Portugal’s schools.