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Teachers offered 12,000 euros to pursue 'second’ teacher training programme

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Almost no teachers are making use of a special grant to join a second teacher training programme. The Ministry of Education is therefore raising the grant substantially, from 3,500 to 12,000 euros per teacher.

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Outoing Minister of Education Ingrid van Engelshoven has expanded the grant scheme for retraining teachers, even though last year she was unwilling to do so. The 12,000 euro grant covers two years of study, so it's six thousand euros per year. The old amount was 3,500 euros for one year.

Colossal tuition fees
So, what was the deal with those ‘second’ studies? For their first Bachelor’s or Master’s degree programme students pay, in principle, the standard tuition fees of around 2,200 euros per year (only half of that amount in the first year). Since 2010, anyone who wishes to pursue another study programme afterwards has to pay the higher institutional tuition fee. That can easily amount to thousands of euros.

Exceptions to that high fee are made for people who want to retrain for the education or healthcare sector, but such exceptions do not apply to teachers: after all, they are already in education.

With a view to the increasing shortage of teachers, that was perhaps not a good move. Consequently, last year the minister decided that teachers who retrain would be eligible for a grant of 3,500 euros from that moment on. The theory was that teachers who were disenchanted with their first discipline would possibly remain in education. For example, a gym teacher who wanted to do teacher training for primary education could use it to pay half a year’s institutional tuition fee.

Too small
The General Union of Education (AOb) considered the grant far too small. Let those teachers simply pay the low statutory tuition fees, said the union. GroenLinks also argued in favour of a more generous scheme, but minister Van Engelshoven felt that this was unnecessary and anyway there was insufficient money for it. She had 2.5 million euros available for the grant and expected around 750 teachers to make use of it.

A year later, the critics proved to have been correct and the minister finally decided to make the scheme more generous. In the explanatory memorandum, she writes that the number of grant applications last year was within the limits. That means that a more generous allowance is “probably more fitting and more effective”.

The Education Executive Agency DUO says that last year 94 grant applications were submitted, for a total of 329 thousand euros. So more than two million euros in grants remain unused.

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