The first group of helpers organised by the city involves some 50 retired teachers and psychologists

Ghent is calling on its citizens to help with teacher shortage

Ghent is calling on its citizens to help with teacher shortage

The city launched a new programme that will help people to fill in the vacancies in the educational system

Today, the city of Ghent in Belgium launched a new campaign to tackle the schoolteacher shortage, casting a wide net to fill the vacant positions as quickly as possible. As Belgium is getting ready to go back to school, the shortage is becoming more and more noticeable.

Alderman for Education Elke Decruynaere took to social media to kickstart the promotion of the campaign. She asked people to spread the word and convince anyone they know to apply for the comprehensive teacher fast-track programme the city is now offering.

People from all backgrounds can help

Currently, there are no precise numbers on the shortage, however, local authorities estimate that it is more than 100 vacancies. If a solution cannot be presented quickly, this could have a severe impact on the quality of education in the city. Every filled vacancy counts.

Ghent now offers ten types of programmes, depending on the applicant’s educational status as the system is trying to be as flexible as possible to tackle the issue by the end of the year.

They include people with a secondary school diploma or people without a secondary school diploma, people with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, the unemployed, people with professional experience looking to change their field of occupation, former teachers, people with any kind of pedagogical diploma or with interests in special types of teaching. It even targets retirees.

Alderman Decruynaere was quoted by the Flemish broadcasting agency, the VRT, saying that all Ghent residents are welcome, especially people with pedagogical experience or education. She explained that a lot of pressure can be relieved through help with logistics and administration work as well.

The first wave of aid

The first group of helpers is organised by the city and it involves 50 retired teachers and psychologists. Local authorities, though, are concerned about the longevity of their efforts, as they need a lot more and young people to fix the problem sustainably.

Flanders has been trying to deal with a growing teacher shortage for some years now, with a recent study by the European Commission, published in 2020, outlining a troubling trend – a quarter of newly trained teachers leave the position within the first five years. The shortage has only been exacerbated during the pandemic – the new leading cause for teacher dropouts.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel, however, as the situation is getting so bad that local authorities have to find sweeping new solutions. The new educational programme is supposed to bear fruit by the end of this year, with a fresh batch of teaching staff.



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