A total of five bills to extend the public education system to children from 0 to 3 years old were rejected in the parliament
These bills were the result of a public petition with over 14,000 signatures, presented by the Association of Child Education Professionals.
The Left Bloc and the Communist Party presented bills for the creation of a public network of nurseries, but the PS and the Liberal Initiative joined in voting against. In the same way, the bill from the Livre Party to amend the Basic Law and create a public network of early childhood education was also rejected by the PS.
Joana Mortágua, member of the Bloco de Esquerda, defended the need to change the Basic Law of the Education System in order to allow early childhood to be included in the education system, through a "universal and free" public network of nurseries, which fulfils the rights of children and families to education and care".
Moreover, the communist deputy Diana Ferreira stressed that something has to be done to overcome the lack of vacancies. Furthermore, the draft law of the PCP was aimed at the creation of 100,000 vacancies in nurseries as part of a public response covering the entire national territory, under the responsibility of the State and guaranteeing equal access conditions for all children.
Rui Tavares, the only Member of Parliament for Livre, argued that it makes no sense to separate the first three years of a child's life from all the others in terms of their educational path, reinforcing the importance of creating a public, universal and free network of nurseries.
In turn, the People-Animals-Nature Party (PAN) also presented a bill defending an early childhood education system that guarantees the inclusion of children from zero to three years old in the education system, but it was rejected, as were the others, with the votes against by the PS.
In this sense, the PAN did not stop there, having also presented a draft resolution suggesting to the Government the adoption of a mechanism to pay the costs of enrolment and attendance for children who enter private establishments because there is no public offer, but it was refused.
In defence of her projects, Deputy Inês Sousa Real of the PAN defended the right to education in childhood as a human right and therefore this should be ensured through work between the State, society and families.
On the other hand, Rui Afonso, from CHEGA, who presented two bills, one for a new legal regime of the teaching and organisation of the subject and curricular area of Citizenship and Development, and the other for changing the name of the “Ministério da Educação” to the “Ministério do Ensino”, both rejected.
According to the MP, the understanding of the party is that the school is responsible for teaching and the families for educating, so the subject should be optional and not compulsory, as has been until now.
Although the party agrees with the inclusion of children between zero and three years in the education system, the deputy argued that it is necessary to understand the real shortage of nurseries, proposing the realisation of a study at a national level.
Carla Castro, from Liberal Initiative, pointed out that the lack of vacancies is a problem, but argued that the solution does not lie in the creation of a public network, as this would be a slow process.
For the PS, Fernando José said that it was the socialist party that launched the principle of free nursery schools and that the lack of coverage is also being addressed.