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European schools face multiple problems. A number of parents already left these schools and some opt for a private education despite a very high cost. What are the reasons and what should be done?
A. The European school system is in trouble because of the following reasons:
- The cost of the Schools has been reduced as a result of the decrease in the salaries of seconded teachers, but this gain was not taken into account when adapting their general budget.
- The Budget remains fairly stable while each year the number of students is increased by about 500 children per year.
- The Member States and the Commission have decided to introduce a new cost-sharing mechanism which proves to be ineffective.
- The conditions of employment of locally recruited teachers (“Lecturers”) are still poor.
- Half of the teachers are no longer seconded by the Member States as stated in the European Schools Convention, but teachers recruited locally, which increases the cost to the Commission’s budget and decreases the amount available for teaching.
- About 20,000 students are learning English but the United Kingdom will soon leave the EU. It will become difficult to find seconded or recruited locally English teachers.
- Fourteen new “accredited” European schools (mostly private) have come into existence thanks to the accreditation system, but they compete with the thirteen “public” European schools to attract the best teachers.
B. The above leads to six problems:
- Currently, we have fewer resources per pupil in both primary and secondary schools and suffer unacceptable overcrowding, especially in the four schools in Brussels and the two schools in Luxembourg.
- We observe an imbalance in the teaching population, including a drastically lower proportion of seconded teachers, because of the cost-sharing mechanism.
- There are increasing difficulties in recruiting and retaining seconded staff from the certain Member States, particularly from the northern countries, because of unattractive remuneration for them.
- There are increasing difficulties in recruiting and retaining locally recruited teachers due to non-competitive employment conditions compared to a local school’s system.
- It is increasingly difficult to hire teachers with specific skills, including English-speaking teachers, who ended their secondment and are now paid as “locally recruited”.
- Support for students who have problems are reduced because lack of adequate budget.
In order for European Schools to continue to fulfil their mission and meet the legitimate expectations of parents, many of whom work for the institutions, they should:
- European Schools system must be provided with adequate budgetary resources and buildings suited to the mission of a school and to the maximum number of pupils allowed.
- There is a need for a sufficient number of teachers who, through their qualifications, can respond effectively to their mission and offer adequate conditions of employment.
- The European Schools, in co-operation with the Commission, should adopt a policy of secondment of teachers based on the real needs of teaching the different subjects and not on the basis of the number of pupils per nationality (as foreseen in the current system which is one of the causes of the problem).
- The cost-sharing method of member states must be thoroughly revised to respect the objective operational needs and the interests of the students.
This analysis was provided by trade union U4U (Union for unity).