The government has set aside €8.5bn to help school pupils, and college and university students, get back up to speed once schools and colleges reopen as normal.
In addition, college and university students will only pay half the tuition fees they should pay in the coming year, education ministers Ingrid van Engelshoven and Arie Slob announced on Wednesday afternoon.
‘Even if all educational institutions are open again, a lot has to be done to get education back on track,’ Van Engelshoven said. The package presented today is ‘unprecedented’, Slob told reporters. It does justice, he said, to all the pupils who have been systematically impacted by the pandemic.’
The €8.5bn budget will be spread over 2.5 years and cover all types of education, from primary to special needs. Schools will be free to decide how to spend the money allocated to them.
Among the options which could be considered: extra lessons during the summer holidays, additional classroom assistants for primary schools and mixed ability classes in the early years of secondary school, to ensure pupils reach the appropriate level, the ministers say.
Primary schools will get an extra €180,000 in the coming school year and secondary schools €1.3m, but schools with a large number of children from disadvantaged backgrounds will get more.
In addition, the government has allocated a further €644m to help colleges and universities which have been hit by a surge in student numbers as school leavers defer gap years.
Student number rose by roughly 10% this academic year.
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