Billion dollar plans get a place in education budget
Prinsjesdag 2022 has few surprises in store for education. The first budget of the Rutte IV cabinet mainly contains an elaboration of the previously presented plans from the coalition agreement.
As expected, this Budget Day is dominated by the unprecedented inflation and financial problems that this entails for many citizens. The cabinet wants to ease the financial pain with an extensive package of measures, it was already announced before the weekend. For example, students who are entitled to a basic grant from next academic year can expect an extra 165 euros per month.
From January the cabinet wants to curb the increased energy costs for households with a price ceiling. Additional compensation for educational institutions that use sky-high energy prices face is not on the table now.
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Tamar van Gelder, chairman of the AOb: “Measures are being taken to reduce energy bills, but inflation has not gone away. And education collective agreements will run until at least spring 2023. Teachers and educational support staff cannot wait that long. We are already seeing colleagues in schools getting into financial difficulties.”
According to Van Gelder, poverty also causes a lot of stress among pupils and students: “You take that with you in the classroom or to the lecture hall. We are deeply concerned about the consequences of this.”
De AOb believes that the inflation compensation is urgent. “Otherwise, there is a threat of an even bigger leak from education staff. A teaching assistant also looks at his or her household book and can earn more in other sectors. An ICT teacher also receives a higher salary from a market party.”
De education budget allocates amounts to previously announced plans: for example, to reduce inequality of opportunity, strengthen basic skills and improve the position of teachers and school leaders. For the latter, 838 million euros has been booked for the coming year.
Last spring, an agreement was already reached on one and a half billion euros on a structural basis for teachers' salaries in primary education and workload reduction in primary education. That finally made it close the pay gap for teachers in primary education, the result of years of campaigning.
The teacher shortage has not been solved with all investments. Shortage in the labor market is forcing the government to provide financial incentives, including a full-time bonus – something that, according to the AOb is contrary to rules that advocate equal treatment between part-timers and full-timers.
As far as the teacher shortage is concerned, the education ministers want to talk about 'far-reaching and unorthodox measures to arrive at structural solutions'. In the education budget they write that these 'touch the heart of the education system: funding, management and supervision, and the way in which education is organized in schools'. Van Gelder van de AOb: “This could be step one towards it roll back decentralization (that school boards, in the form of sector councils, were given a lot of power, ed.). After 25 years, education is very much ready for that.”
In his Speech from the Throne this afternoon, King Willem Alexander said: “Only with a well-educated workforce can we build an innovative and entrepreneurial future.” Van Gelder elaborates on the statement further: “These 'well-trained people' are needed for all major ambitions and challenges in the field of equal opportunities, housing construction and the energy transition. Sufficiently qualified teachers are also crucial in MBO for this.”