Portugal’s Constitutional Court has declared as 'unconstitutional' the test scheme that has seen many teachers sacked from their posts, thus exacerbating teacher shortages.
In what may be the final humiliation for Education Minister Nuno Crato, teachers’ unions already are calling for hefty compensation for those of their members that were dismissed after they failed to pass the dreaded test.
The judges ruled that the teachers' test introduced in 2013 went against the provisions of the earlier Education Act and that it is illegal to force teachers to pass a test in order to start or continue their contracts.
The legislation was devised in 2008 and the Constitutional Court rightly blames the government at the time, headed by José Socrates.
The ‘Knowledge and Capacity Assessment Test’ for teachers "is dead" according to the National Federation of Teachers (Fenprof) with its Secretary General noting that the union always had taken the view that "this test was illegal and unconstitutional."
"The the Education Act at no time states that you need to take a test to become a teacher" and "the Government could only have introduced the tests if the legislation had been passed by Parliament."
Fenprof also made the point that "many teachers were prevented from working this year" and raised several questions for Education Minister Nuno Crato about compensation for those teachers whose earnings and employment record have been damaged by failing the test. The unions say that up to 10,000 teachers are affected.
Fenprof said that the ministry now needs to work out the costs of the legislative blunder and the amount of money wasted by running the hugely expensive test scheme.
"The Minister must tell the Portuguese public how much all of this has cost" and must "take responsibility" argued Fenprof’s Mario Nogueira, adding that “it is not up to the Portuguese public pay for the madness of their rulers.”
The National Association of Contractor Teachers' opinion is that this ruling "is a victory for teachers and for democracy" while warning that the ministry must compensate and reinstate those teachers who have been sacked.
Yet again the coalition government has pushed through ill-devised measures which have been at odds with Portugal's existing legislation.
The Constitutional Court is right to point out these foolish errors and this situation begs the question as to the intelligence of the ministers and political leaders, in this case José Socrates, who push through 'reforms' without first ensuring that they are legal.
The Constitutional Court then blames the Executive headed by José Socrates