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Parliamentary questions
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28 March 2011
E-002987/2011
Question for written answer E-002987/2011
to the Commission
Rule 117
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL) and Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL)

 Subject: The future of the European School
 Answer in writing 

The parents of the pupils of the Portuguese section of the European School of Brussels II (Woluwe) have recently expressed their concern over the future of Portuguese-medium instruction in the school. On the pretext of budget cuts, measures are being prepared that would jeopardise the quality of teaching and would especially affect the pupils of the Portuguese section. These would include:

obliging the schools to pay from their own budgets the arrears owed since 2009 under the teachers' pay increase — a measure which would lead to severe constraints given that no extra budget allocation is proposed for this and it would therefore certainly be to the detriment of the other headings related to the normal work of the school;
increasing minimum class sizes for optional subjects, a measure which would particularly affect pupils in the smaller sections, such as the Portuguese section, and would call in question such founding principles of the European Schools as receiving subject instruction in one's native language;
introducing ‘vertical streaming’, i.e. creating classes mixing two or more year groups, a measure which would lead to a deterioration in teaching quality and would raise major educational and practical problems;
reducing support for special needs children — Portuguese pupils no longer benefit from the services of a Portuguese-speaking psychologist or therapist, and are thus disadvantaged vis-à-vis other nationalities — and raising the possibility of this type of support being charged in the future to parents rather than being paid for by the school.

Some of these measures could create situations which have, in the past, been considered unjustifiably discriminatory by the European Ombudsman (see Case 1391/2002/JMA).

Can the Commission explain how it justifies these measures and the damage which, if implemented, they would inevitably cause to Portuguese pupils? Is the Commission willing to review them?

Original language of question: PTOJ C 309 E, 21/10/2011
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