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Teacher shortages in more than 40% of Belgian schools, says OECD study
The lack of teachers in Belgian schools - particularly at secondary level - has worsened in the last few years, according to a new report published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The report follows the launch earlier this week of a new recruitment programme for unemployed people to retrain as teachers, by the city of Brussels and Brussels-Capital Region.
According to the latest data (2018) in the OECD’s triennial PISA (programme for international student assessment) survey, nearly half (43.5%) of Belgian school heads said they did not have enough teaching staff. This figure was not only substantially higher than the 29.3% average of all 37 OECD countries, it was also a steep rise from the 33.9% reported in the 2015 PISA assessment.
While Belgium - the report does not give separate figures for Brussels, Wallonia and Flanders - may seem like a bad pupil as far as teacher shortages are concerned, many other countries fared worse.
In Japan, 52% of school directors said there was a lack of teachers, compared to 56% in Germany and 75% for Belgium’s neighbouring Luxembourg.
The OECD report followed the February 2020 FAPEO (Belgium’s federation of parents’ associations) survey of 500 families who said children were missing out on 192 hours of teaching a year.
In the face of this continuing problem, the city of Brussels, in collaboration with the regional government, announced a new programme for unemployed workers wanting to retrain as teachers on Monday.
The aim is to attract people with skills particularly in Dutch, mathematics and science. The idea is that they teach part-time while taking a teacher training course at the Haute Ecole Francisco Ferrer in central Brussels.
“A real demand has been seen for teachers for years,” said Bernard Clerfayt. “Between March and September, Actiris (Brussels’ employment agency) received 360 calls for posts as a teacher at the lower levels in secondary school,” said Clerfayt, the Brussels-Capital region government minister for employment.
Faouzia Hariche, alderwoman for French-language public education in the city of Brussels, added that in the coronavirus era, “This year, more than any other, we need to act creatively to ensure that our students continue to learn and to promote the most beautiful job in the world.”
Photo: Courtesy of Stad Gent