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Portugal's CS Teachers Face Critical Challenge

According to Ana Paula Ferreira of the Portuguese Science Teachers Association (ANPRI), someone has been playing politics with teacher certification requirements in Portugal and the future of computer science in high schools is in jeopardy.

Since the 1990s, Portugal has had a pre-service university degree for people who want to teach computer science courses. Since that time, many high schools have been teaching computer science in grades 10 through 12.

Recently, however, the Ministry of Education decided to allow anyone to teach computer science classes. The problem, Ana says, is that the people in the Ministry of Education do not understand the difference between teaching computer science and teaching technology in education (the use of computers to support learning in other curriculum areas).

The members of the ANPRI are very concerned that this change will allow teachers with no computer science background to teach computer science or will eliminate real computer science education altogether.

According to Ana, the computer science teachers who are part of ANPRI believe that it is essential to prepare their students for a technology-embedded future and computer science is a key element of their education. ANPRI is therefore committed to working in collaborating to the Ministry of Education to propose a special curriculum for K-12 schools, and develop special high schools courses.

ANPRI estimates that there are 2000 teachers with degrees in computer science teaching in Portugal's high schools. ANPRI represents 10% of that number the organization is launching a campaign to reach for new members.

Judith Gal-Ezer
Director for CSTA International Outreach

Comments

Since the recent publication of the law (decreto-lei n. 43/2007, last 22th february) computer science (CS) is no longer part of the curriculum in k-12 Portuguese schools. Based in this law, the Portuguese Universities cannot convert their universities degrees in computer science teachers preparation to the Bolongna agreement. We have like 10 degrees across all country.

In the last decade computer science teachers substitute other teachers from other subjects that teach CS with no degree in CS. This really why we face today this major challenge.

In the last four months we have tried by all means to bring this problem to the the attention of the Portuguese government, the universities and all CS Portuguese VIPs. We still have hope that the Portuguese Ministry of Education will correct this huge mistake, so that technology development in Portugal can be a reality.


Ana Paula Ferreira
President ANPRI - Portuguese Computer Science Teachers Association

As an ICT teacher who had to WORK hard for my degree in CS I find it outrageaus the way teachers from other subjects can substitute us, with no proper degree. Only because they know how to turn on a PC. Of course, there are many people who are good with computers and could teach some issues. But teachers with the Uni-degree should always be preferred.

This is obviously a political measure to decrease costs with education. (You can cut off costs everywhere, except in the salary of the politicians and their pensions).

Unless there will be a serious action from the European Union (to which Portugal belongs) this kind of "playing" with the portuguese tax-payers money will probably not stop.

We belong to the EU: where are the Unifying rules? Where is the control over "greedy and irresponsible" politicians? Where is the EU to take irresponsible and destructive acts to trial?

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