(© picture alliance / APA / picturedesk.com ROLAND SCHLAGER)


  24 Debates

The results of the first Pisa study since the Covid-19 pandemic were published on Tuesday. Around 690,000 schoolchildren aged 15 and 16 from 81 countries were tested. Compared to previous surveys, performance has declined in most countries. Almost all the top spots are occupied by East Asian states - along with Estonia. Europe's press looks at why.

Headscarves are already banned in France's schools. Now the country's new education minister Gabriel Attal wants to ban abayas as well. Wearing these ankle-length garments is a "religious gesture", argues Attal, citing France's strict secularism. The press is at odds over the planned ban.

The Hungarian parliament has passed a controversial law on the legal status of teachers. Critics are calling it a "vengeance law" against teachers who have long been demonstrating for higher salaries and education reform. The legislation provides for a salary increase, but this is linked to the receipt of funds which the EU is currently withholding due to concerns about the rule of law in the country.

Romanian teachers have ended their wage strike which lasted several weeks. The government presented a new offer on the weekend: as of 1 June, all school employees are to receive a wage increase of 25 percent on average, with further hikes to follow in 2024. If the promises are not implemented the teachers will strike again, their unions say.

The teachers' strike in Romania continues - despite an emergency decree passed by the government last week announcing an immediate raise in their salaries and further increases in the coming years. Many strikers still see their demands as unmet and distrust the government's promises. Comments from the national press show understanding for this position.

In Romania, tens of thousands of teachers have been on strike since Monday demanding higher wages and more investment in the education system. Entry-level teachers at public schools earn only around 480 euros a month on average. Commentators agree that that's simply not enough.

Once the Pisa frontrunner, Finland's education scores are now declining. A new report published by the Finnish Ministry of Education paints a gloomy picture of educational standards in the country. It shows that in the last two decades the scores in reading and maths tests have dropped by one or two school years, and that those born in 1978 are the best educated section of the population.

All over Europe, children and teenagers are returning to the classroom after the summer holidays - but massive shortages in teaching staff are being reported across the continent. Not only are there ever fewer young people entering the teaching profession, many teachers are leaving it and seeking employment in other, better-paid fields. Concerns are reflected in European media.

In France, the appointment of Pap Ndiaye, a historian specialised in race relations, as the new minister of education has been strongly criticised by conservatives and the right. For them, Ndiaye champions US identity politics and attacks the values of the Republic. The debate about Ndiaye as an individual misses the point, says the national press.

The Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias wants to take advantage of the current tourism boom in the country and extend the holiday season from March to November. This has lead to enormous price increases on the already heated housing market. Teachers who move to work on islands popular with tourists, for example, can no longer find accommodation and are forced to sleep in tents or their cars. Commentators are outraged.

Summer holidays at last! And an opportunity for commentators to look back over a year of teaching in the pandemic - and to consider what lessons can been learned for next year.

For years Romania has been debating the introduction of voluntary sex education in schools. In 2020, parliament changed a proposed law at the last minute, making participation only possible with parental consent. President Iohannis then sent the bill back to parliament. The Senate refused to amend it on Tuesday, and the Chamber of Deputies has yet to vote on it.

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.

The Shanghai-based Fudan University plans to open a campus in Budapest in 2024, with a capacity of around 5,000 students and 500 teaching staff. Hungary's Minister of Innovation and Technology, László Palkovics, signed a corresponding agreement with the university's president in Shanghai in 2019. Hotly debated in Hungary, the decision is also causing consternation in neighbouring Austria.

Italy decided on Tuesday to partially tighten its anti-pandemic restrictions. Among other things, all schools in the hard-hit red zones will be closed again. On the same day a Unicef report appeared which documents a huge educational crisis: 168 million children worldwide are currently excluded from classes. Is keeping school closed the right approach?

Dress codes in schools are currently being debated in several European countries. In Sweden, clothing that is considered to be typical of gangsters is a thorn in the side of teachers. In France and Switzerland, teachers are concerned about girls dressing in a way that is too revealing. Now some girls at a school in Geneva are being made to wear an oversized T-shirt that reads "I am appropriately dressed". Commentators discuss whether such rules make sense.

Teachers in Croatia have expanded the protests they have been holding since mid-October and are staging a general strike this week which they say won't end until the government starts negotiating with them. The latter has so far rejected the teachers' demand for a pay rise of about six percent. For some of the country's media the teachers have lost all sense of proportion.

Teachers at Polish schools earn an average of 700 euros per month - too little to get by on, many complain. The government has rejected a pay hike and proposed increasing their working hours instead so that they earn more. The teachers' unions have rejected the proposal and called for the biggest teachers' strike in Polish history today. Not all media show their support.

A video posted on Snapchat showing a high school student holding a pistol to his teacher's head has caused an outcry on Twitter. Under the hashtag PasDeVague (Don't Make Waves) teachers are posting their experiences with school violence. How serious is the problem and what are its causes?

Denmark has been rocked by a scandal over welcome rituals at grammar schools. According to reports one of the rituals involves 15 and 16-year-old girls starting upper school being selected to be waitresses at a dinner for pupils of the graduating classes. They are made to follow a dress code that includes wearing red panties and are often subjected to sexual harassment. Danish media are appalled.

The parliament in Kiev has passed an education law aimed at modernising Ukraine's school system. Fierce criticism of the law has been voiced in Hungary and Russia, while Romania and Poland have been more moderate in their appraisals. Critics in these countries find it outrageous that classes in minority languages are to be severely curtailed in future.

Latvia's president has signed an education law allowing schools to dismiss teachers who are disloyal to the country and its constitution. The government hopes this will curb Russian influence in the country's Russian-language schools. Is Latvia making a laughing stock of itself or is this the right way to combat Russian propaganda?

More than 50,000 people demonstrated for educational reform in Croatia on Wednesday. The protest was sparked by the resignation of the group of experts responsible for coordinating the reform in recent months. Convened by the previous government, the group had complained of influence peddling by the current national-conservative government. Commentators hope society will make its voice heard.