Recommendation on draft programme law second budget adaptation 2014 and budget 2015 (10/16/2014)

This recommendation has been prepared by the General Council, at the request of Annemie Turtelboom, viceminister-president of the Flemish Government and minister of Budget, Finances and Engergy.

The Flemish Education Council insists on the need for the government to invest now and in the upcoming years in education, and to take engagements to continue to see education policy as crucial. The draft programme law that is on the table, as well as the Vlor recommendation, are situated in a context of budgetary cuts that need to be questioned critically. The Vlor states hat the added value of education for society has to be translated into the multiannual budgetary policy. The Vlor insists on finding sustainable solutions for long existing structural financial problems.

At this moment, the Vlor only has knowledge of a limited part of the budgetary efforts that are being asked from education. This recommendation is a reaction on the draft programme law, and not on the budget law. Next to that, measures taken in other policy fields and at the federal level can have impact on the educational resources.

The Vlor recognizes that the minister of education has made choices in order to avoid linear cuts, but the motivation behind those choices is not clear enough.

The government is saving on operating resources. These savings have an important impact on the functioning of schools: didactical materials including ICT-materials, new learning methods, investment in maintaining and renovating buildings, staff paid through the operating resources, comfort of the pupils in regular and special needs education. They have a negative influence on the possibilities for educational institutions and centers to fulfill there core tasks. This can put pressure on the quality. For the Vlor, it is necessary to organize a debate in the next few years on the question which are the core tasks that schools and centers need to fulfill.

The Vlor thinks that it is not a good idea that schools should have to look for extra income from parents or the public. The functioning of education has to be funded with public resources.

The savings that the government is aiming to realize now, will have a structural impact on the functioning of schools, also in the next years. That is why the Vlor asks to limit the measures to one year.

In order to mitigate the impact of the budgetary cuts, the government at least has to take accompanying measures so that schools will not have to pay costs that are not directly related to their core task, such as authors’ rights, costs for medical examinations, …

The government will have to organize consultation with the different stakeholders in the near future in order to design alternative solutions together.