Last week, members of Confap met with officials from DGEstE to discuss various issues about the next school year, which starts between 14 and 17 September, one of the topics being the Escola Digital programme.

In April, Prime Minister António Costa promised that during the new academic year, universal access to the digital platform, network and equipment would be ensured for all students in primary and secondary education.

Public schools have about 1.2 million students who, in March, stopped taking face-to-face classes due to the evolution of the covid-19 pandemic.

Distance learning revealed that there was a percentage of students who were disconnected from school, due to lack of equipment or network.

Last month, the Minister of Education, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, announced a budget of 400 million euros for the Escola Digital program, which includes, among other measures, the distribution of equipment for students and teachers.

At the time, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues explained that the programme would be implemented in a phased manner and that priority would be given to students covered by school social action (ASE) until reaching the universality of the measure.

Lusa contacted the Ministry of Education's office but has not received a response so far.

According to Confap, priority will be given to ASE situations, but with flexibility according to the needs of the students, namely in a situation of confinement.

Classes will start with the return to face-to-face education but the possibility remains that schools will have to move to mixed or even distance education, depending on these measures of the eventual appearance of cases of covid-19 infection among the population.

Parents argue that equipment should belong to schools and be available if necessary.

In recent statements to Lusa, school principals also suggested that this programme should follow a model similar to the distribution of school textbooks: “They are free but on loan,” summarized Filinto Lima, president of the National Association of School and Group Directors. (ANDAEP).

Confap also proposes that expenses with computers and other equipment essential in the educational process should be eligible under the IRS.