Post-Covid: how much extra funding for education?
Many European countries are now discussing how to address the problems caused by homeschooling. In the UK, Education Recovery Commissioner Kevan Collins resigned in protest when only 1.4 billion pounds was approved instead of the 15 billion he had demanded. This is also the subject of heated discussion in the British press. Meanwhile, in the Netherlands an even larger financial package is coming under fire.
All about the right dosage
According to The Independent, the pledged 1.4 billion is nowhere near enough:
“In a way, the plight of this cohort of students is analogous to long Covid - an after-effect of the pandemic that will reverberate down the years and decades. The nation, too, will pay a price for a less well educated, less productive workforce. As with all treatments, the medicine that our schools need should be administered quickly and at an effective dosage, and £50 per child [roughly 58 euros] is not going to suffice for a full educational recovery.”
Money is not the solution
But the Daily Telegraph argues that schools should concentrate on making better use of the available funds:
“Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, struggled to justify his initial set of measures costing £1.4 billion, a substantial outlay but well short of what Sir Kevan sought. The fallacy at the heart of this, as with the NHS, is that spending large sums of money will make any difference. ... [Y]et better systems of working often achieve more for little or no extra cost. The Government cannot afford to let children down further and needs to focus on what practically can be done rather than fixate on yet more funding.”
Enough of just plugging holes
In the Netherlands, the government had promised schools an extra eight billion euros for the coronavirus period to make up for educational shortfalls. But one-off lump sums won't improve the situation, NRC Handelsblad complains:
“The schools are crying out above all for extra teachers, smaller classes, more attention and guidance for individual children. Structural solutions are needed. The teaching profession needs to be viewed with greater respect so more people are encouraged to choose a jobs at a school instead of a job in business, for example. According to the latest calculations, there will be a shortage of around 10,000 teachers in primary schools in seven years' time. In recent decades schools have been constant victims of a policy of cutting back and plugging holes.”