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Portugal's new government merges the Ministries of Science and Education – 03/31/2024 – now

Portugal's new government merges the Ministries of Science and Education – 03/31/2024 – now

The new Portuguese government, which takes office on Tuesday (2), will merge the Ministry of Science and Higher Education with the Ministry of Education. Several entities, including student and teacher associations, criticized the decision.

For the past eight years, Portugal has had a Ministry of Education that was mainly dedicated to schools and pre-schools. Higher education, science and technology are grouped together in a separate volume.

The executive, led by Luis Montenegro, of the center-right party (Social Democratic Party), chose to merge all powers, creating a supreme ministry.

The person chosen to head what is now called the Ministry of Education, Science and Innovation was economist Fernando Alexander, an associate professor at the University of Minho.

One of the main challenges faced by the new minister will be resolving the issues of salaries and length of service for teachers in Portuguese public schools. Category strikes and strikes were one of the main points of tension in the recent Socialist Party-led government.

Although merging education and science under the same ministry has already happened in other governments, the change has drawn criticism from several associations linked to the sector.

The National Student Movement, which includes many student unions in Portugal, said in a statement that it “strongly rejects” the new government's decision.

“This action, by combining higher education with other areas of education, shows a clear lack of respect for the importance and specificities of higher education and the strategic importance of sciences for the country’s economic growth,” the statement said.

The president of the National Union of Higher Education, José Moreira, expressed his regret at the change.

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“The issue of having a huge ministry, with a huge agenda of issues to deal with, and with topics that are at the forefront of the political agenda, I think will make the work of Minister Fernando Alexandre very difficult,” he said. In an interview with Al Nahda Radio.

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