The reduction in the number of students per class divided the parliament this Wednesday, opposing the left concerned with the physical distance in classrooms and learning conditions, on the right who defended before the autonomy of schools.
Under discussion were three bills of the PCP, BE and PEV that, with few differences between them, provide for the imposition of limits on the number of students per class, for a maximum of nine in pre-school, 20 in the 1st and 2nd cycles and 22 in the 3rd and secondary cycle, or, in the case of the ENP proposal, 20 students regardless of educational level.
The three projects were approved with the votes against PS, PSD, CDS-PP, Liberal Initiative and Chega (which abstained from voting on the BE initiative), provided only with the support of the other parties.
Deputy Mariana Silva of the Ecological Party “Os Verdes” (ENP) opened the debate, stressing that the Covid-19 pandemic imposed health security rules that the current dimension of many classes does not allow to be complied with, namely the physical distance between students.
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It is necessary to reduce the maximum number of students per class, either for reasons of better learning conditions and to promote recovery plans, or to guarantee the return to face-to-face teaching in safety ”, he argued.
Recognizing that the measure has costs, since schools are currently unable to have more classes with fewer students, the deputy considers, however, that “these consequences do not represent costs and expenses, but a positive investment“.
In the same sense, the blocker Alexandra Vieira underlined that the Covid-19 pandemic made this reduction necessary until then, not only for public health reasons, but also for pedagogical reasons.
There is a proportionately inverse relationship between class size and learning success. The smaller the number of students, the greater the learning success ”, said the deputy.
These two arguments – public health and learning – also marked the intervention of Paula Santos, of the PCP, and of the deputy of the PAN Bebiana Cunha, who assured that her party would follow the three proposals. But they did not have an echo on the opposite side of the hemicycle.
On the right, the social democrat António Cunha questioned when the PCP, BE and PEV projects would cost the State, stressing that there are no classrooms or schools for more classes. “And, in fact, money is not enough for everything,” he added.
Congresswoman Ana Rita Bessa of the CDS-PP also spoke out against the initiatives, which she considered to ignore everything that has already been discussed in the Assembly of the Republic. “You ignore the reality of the Portuguese system and propose the same one-size-fits-all solutions for all schools, iregardless of the will of the schools, school strategies and school results“, Said the centrist, defending, on the other hand, the autonomy of schools to make this decision.
On the other hand, Porfírio Silva, from the PS, recalled that there is currently a program for the progressive reduction of classes and considered that deputies cannot “fall into the temptation that it is physically possible to solve the problems of distance from the pandemic with a universal reduction in the number of students per class, in addition to what is being done ”.
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