The new school year started in the east of Austria on Monday morning, the students in the south and west will follow next week. At the start, Minister of Education Martin Polaschek assured that all lessons can be held despite the lack of teachers.
Vienna – Minister of Education Martin Polaschek (ÖVP) repeated his assurance at the start of school in eastern Austria that despite the acute shortage of teachers in the new school year, all school hours can be held. At a press conference on Monday, he did not want to give a number of how many teachers are missing across Austria, even when asked. In the new school year, Polaschek wants to place special emphasis on promoting reading skills.
“Of course there can always be short-term failures that someone gets sick over the weekend,” but his information from the education departments is that all school hours can be held. According to Polaschek, who also referred to the 600 newly hired career changers, what the teachers could not do would have to be taken up by student teachers. A total of around ten percent of the teachers at schools are now people who have not been trained through a relevant degree.
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In the new school year, the Ministry of Education intends to place special emphasis on promoting reading skills. “Reading with meaning is the basis for a successful educational and professional career,” said Polaschek. In an international comparison, reading performance in Austria is only in the better midfield, “that cannot satisfy us,” said the Minister of Education, referring to the international reading studies PISA and PIRLS.
Reading Ambassadors in Schools
As a concrete measure, according to the plans of the Ministry of Education, public figures should in future act as reading ambassadors when visiting schools to inspire children and young people to read. The individual schools should also be encouraged to carry out more innovative reading projects with a new reading quality seal. For the increased focus on reading in the classroom, Polaschek particularly praised the model of reading tandems between children with reading difficulties and those who find it easier to read.
Polaschek also expects concrete results from the increased reading promotion in the coming years from the international comparative studies. Of course, the results of the PISA study that has already been carried out, the results of which will be presented in December, will not yet be seen, but the Minister of Education is already hoping for visible success with the next results.
According to the PIRLS study (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) presented in May, Austria’s reading performance is in line with the EU average. In Austria, the differences in performance in reading according to the level of education or profession of the parents are significantly greater in Austria than in other countries.
Nevertheless, Polaschek wants to broaden the new focus on promoting reading skills. It is important to encourage reading in every school. Where there is a special need, the need for support will of course be met with support hours, according to the Minister of Education. (WHAT)
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NEOS call for a reduction in bureaucracy in schools
The NEOS used the start of school in eastern Austria for a protest in front of the Ministry of Education. They called on Education Minister Martin Polaschek (ÖVP) to reduce the excessive bureaucracy in schools. “The bureaucracy monster needs to be caught,” said NEOS club chairwoman Beate Meinl-Reisinger at the Monday morning press conference at Minoritenplatz. The NEOS want to increase the pressure on Polaschek with a petition.
In view of the many lists, forms and protocols that the teachers have to fill out, especially when school starts, there is hardly any time for their actual job: teaching and spending time with the children, Meinl-Reisinger criticized. “The worst thing about these lists is that they usually end up in filing cabinets,” meaning that bureaucracy is largely an end in itself.
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