Number of teachers older than 65 doubles in five years

Summary

While the education ministry finds the trend in postponing retirement a positive step for schools, one education union finds it a ‘stopgap’

6,000 more teachers needed

The number of working teachers who are aged 65 and older has doubled in five years’ time, from 161 in the 2012-2013 school year to 350 in the last year. The figures were provided by Flemish education minister Hilde Crevits.

In the past, teachers were obliged to retire at the end of the school year in which they turned 65. Since 2012, however, schools can continue to employ teachers who submit a request. This request must be renewed every school year.

A majority of the teachers who have postponed their retirement are men working in primary education. Antwerp province has the largest number of older teachers.

The new regulation was introduced to deal with the teaching shortage. According to the ministry, Flanders still needs about 6,000 more teachers.

Minister Crevits applauded the trend. “It shows the teacher’s commitment, and it is beneficial for both the school involved and the teacher,” she said in a statement.

Christian education union COC, however, finds the phenomenon alarming. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that we need to seriously invest in teaching careers,” COC secretary-general Koen Van Kerkhoven told De Standaard. “Over-65s cannot compensate for the structural shortage of teachers; that’s only a stopgap.”

Van Kerkhoven said that measures must be taken to attract more people to the profession such as higher salaries, improved working conditions and more respect for the sector. “We need new young teachers and people from other sectors entering the profession,” he said.
Photo courtesy Ingimage

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Educational system

The Flemish educational system is divided into two levels: primary (age six to 12) and secondary school (12 to 18). Education is compulsory for children between the ages of six and 18.
Types - There are three educational networks in Flanders: the Flemish Community’s GO! network, and publicly funded education – either publicly or privately run.
Not enough space - In recent years, Flemish schools have been struggling with persistent teacher shortages and a growing lack of school spaces.
No tuition fees - Nursery, primary and secondary school are free in Flanders.
1

million school-going children in 2013

30

million euros Flemish education budget for new school infrastructures in 2013

11

percent of boys leaving secondary school without a diploma