A colorful network of organizations has proclaimed the coming Thursday as the “Action Day Education”. The recreational educators will strike on June 15th.
According to the colorful network of organizations – from teachers’ unions of various kinds to parents’ representatives and associations for the disabled to the kindergarten platform Educare and the Austrian Students’ Union – demonstrations should be held throughout Austria for “inclusive education and for better growing-up, learning and working conditions in the education sector”.
“Action Day Education” with criticism of working and learning conditions
“There are too many omissions, undesirable developments, grievances and construction sites for us to remain silent,” explain the more than 50 organizations and civil society initiatives at the Homepage for the day of action their call. The working and learning conditions are getting worse in all areas of education, there is inequality in access to good education, various groups are excluded, excessive bureaucracy and clearly visible mismanagement in the human resources sector.
In addition to classic demos (e.g. in Vienna’s Votive Park, Innsbruck’s Landhausplatz or Mozartplatz in Salzburg), their afternoon activities in public space also include alternative formats such as educational picnics. The aim is to show grievances in current education policy and “to fight together for a fairer, inclusive education system with better working conditions”. Further actions have already been announced.
Numerous demands on “Action Day Education”
The concrete demands of the day of action are just as diverse as the initiatives. But: “Party-political skirmishes damage a long-term oriented education policy and should therefore be consistently kept out,” it is emphasized. For example, demands are made to make the teaching profession more attractive and more support staff at schools (teacher representatives), a right to demonstrate from the age of 14 (SPÖ-affiliated Aktion Kritischer Schüler_innen/AKS), more special education teachers and a legal right to attend an 11th and 12th school year for children with Disability (Lebenshilfe), improvements in teacher training (Austrian Union of Students/ÖH) or a strategy to combat the shortage of staff in kindergartens (Educare).
Strike of recreational educators on “Action Day Education”
The leisure time educators, who are currently opposing a planned reform of their job profile, have also called for a day-long strike on June 15. At the end of May they had already protested in several federal states against their conversion to “assistant pedagogues”, in Vienna around 2,000 people followed the call of the works council of “Bildung im Zentrum” (BiM).
Because of the strike, the free time part for around 35,000 children at 142 public elementary schools supervised by “BiM” in Vienna was canceled that day. A strike meeting is planned for the morning, followed by a demo in the afternoon, which will be combined with that of the “Action Day on Education” in the late afternoon. What is planned in the other federal states could not yet be said in the GPA union when asked by the APA.
Action week in Vienna
In Vienna, the strike on June 15 is part of an action week, during which there can be information tables and – depending on the location – another part-day or full-day strike, says Selma Schacht from the “BiM” works council on the APA . Most would only close earlier on this additional strike day and would not offer late shifts. But there are already a few locations where no leisure care is offered all day.
The main problem with “BiM” is that those affected are not involved in the reform. In addition, “BiM” fears a massive deterioration in working conditions and a lack of legal certainty if recreational educators from the private sector are to be taken on by the public sector.
Government announced reform of recreational educators
The professional group of leisure time educators was created around ten years ago in order to be able to cover the personnel requirements for the expansion of school day care despite the shortage of teachers. These may “only” take over the leisure activities. During the individual learning time, in which the students do their homework with professional support, only teachers and educators may be deployed.
The government now wants to change that. A new staff category “assistant and recreational educator” is to be created, which, in addition to supervision and leisure activities, should also be able to provide learning and digital support. Strictly speaking, recreational educators are currently not allowed to accompany children on educational trips (because they are teaching). In addition, directors do not have the right to issue instructions to recreational educators because they have a different employer. Teachers are employed by the federal or state governments, recreational educators by the municipalities (or associations dominated by them).
According to a draft, the reform provides that members of the new staff category (unlike recreational educators) must have a high school diploma in the future, for which the training will be shortened from two to one semester. It is true that people who are already in the workforce are taken on without any additional requirements – but those affected fear a loss of salary. Education Minister Martin Polaschek (ÖVP) was recently trying to calm down.
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