Dutch-speaking education system faces chronic shortage of teachers: Authorities

The Dutch-speaking education system has been facing chronic teacher shortages for a while, increasingly leaving students lagging behind and with classes being cancelled. The crisis also has more and more impact on students’ ability to sit their exams.

For some years now, the schools have had to cancel exams because pupils have barely mastered the subject for the entire trimester, as per the umbrella organisation for Dutch-speaking schools in Flanders and Brussels, Catholic Education Flanders.

As the lack of teachers grows, so too does this phenomenon.

Moreover, Pieter-Jan Crombez, who is KVO’s spokesperson, mentioned in the statement, “The phenomenon remains limited for now, but it is becoming more acute every year.” He highlighted that the cause of the issue is, once again, clearly the shortage of teachers.

He described that schools are creative and teachers show significant commitment in looking for solutions but stressed that asking students to sit an exam in a subject that has not or hardly been taught is difficult. “It also makes the class councils even more difficult.”

Along with this, the KVO has sounded alarm bells regarding the shortage of staff in primary and secondary schools multiple times. More recently, it has openly criticized the lack of response from the Education Minister, Ben Weyts, saying the authorities are not doing enough to tackle it.

Crombez outlined that he hoped the minister “finally takes the problem seriously and takes decisive action.”

When asked about the cancellation of exams due to the subjects not being sufficiently taught, Weyts’ cabinet shared the information that it was not clear just how many schools were taking this action.

Furthermore, Weyts’ Spokesperson recognised that the shortage of teachers “has been a problem for years” but said that during this period of government, many sacred cows had been tackled, including the agreement on permanent appointments, seniority for lateral entrants, and more financial flexibility for schools.

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