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Lessons in life for some pupils as a new school year starts in Europe

Back to school in France. September, 2023
Back to school in France. September, 2023 Copyright LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP or licensors
Copyright LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP or licensors
By Euronews with AFP, AP, EVN
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Riots, the threat of gun violence and the cost of living crisis have an impact on some European schools


Many of Europe’s children go back to school this week, but for some pupils and their teachers, the new term features some harsh lessons in life.

Burned down in riots

Headteacher Céline Carpentier-Maxant surveys the damage at Bois de l’Etang primary school in La Verrière, west of Paris. It was one of two primary schools torched by protestors earlier in the summer. The protests were about the death of a young man at the hands of the police.

“It's complicated. It's been very, very traumatic for the team because we're left with nothing," Carpentier-Maxant said.

"We've got nothing left, in fact. You can see that it's a bit empty. We've had donations of equipment and supplies that we'll be collecting this afternoon, which have been received by the town hall.”

Damage to primary school in La Verriere, France, September 2023AFP

One of the teachers recalled her reaction to the news the schools had been targeted and the implications it had for the pupils.

"It was a real incomprehension. It was: 'Why the school? What have we done? A lot of the children, especially the younger ones, were afraid that we were in the school at the time, because for them, we slept in the school. 

"So there was a lot of fear for their teachers too. And we had a lot of time to talk. A lot of psychologists were able to come and talk to the children, so that was reassuring too. It reassured the children to see us in good health and strong in front of them too."

While repair works take place at the two schools, 55 pupils from La Verrière will start their term in neighbouring schools in the town.

Poland’s teachers demand more pay

Polish teachers protest over pay, September 1, 2023EVN

In Poland, 3,500 teachers and their supporters demonstrated outside the Ministry of Education and Science in Warsaw on Friday to demand a 20 per cent rise and more investment in schools and teacher recruitment.

The president of the Polish Teachers' Union, Sławomir Broniarz said Polish education was at a critical turning point.

He said: “The question is how we will get out of this twist, it is a question about the future of students, about the future of education, education workers. It's all in our hands."

Children go back to school in Poland on Monday, 4 September. On 15 September, Poland’s National Alliance of Trade Unions (OPZZ) is to picket parliament to demand wage increases for all public sector workers including teachers.

Serbia’s curriculum to allow time for pupils’ anxiety

Pupils start the new school year in Serbia, September 1st, 2023EVN

The new term started on Friday, 1 September in Serbia with a warm welcome for the youngest children and a new focus in the curriculum on dealing with student anxiety and stress.

The country’s schools broke up early on 6 June, just over a month after a 13-year-old boy from Vladislav Ribnikar elementary school in Belgrade shot nine students and a school guard.

The incident sparked an intense national debate on gun ownership and violence

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