In Portimão, «from last school year to this one, there are 200 more students» in schools. In Lagos, it was necessary to create two more 1st cycle classes and four secondary classes. In Loulé, a new school will open and another, which was closed, will be reactivated.
These are just three examples of Algarve municipalities where the number of students grew again in the school year that begins this week, largely due to the arrival of children of immigrants, of the most varied nationalities.
Isilda Gomes, president of the Portimão City Council, announced a few days ago that this year "five new rooms for pre-school and 1st cycle" will be opened in a wing of the former Hotel and Tourism School, which had been closed since this structure moved to its new premises.
"For now, these five rooms have a lot of dignity", said the mayor before the Minister of Labor and Social Security, during the inauguration of the expansion of a daycare center in Portimão.
Next year, and after the structure has been transferred to the Municipality of Portimão, he said, the former Hotel and Tourism School will be subject to works, which will transform it into a «large school, with a magnificent space to welcome these children who come to us from everywhere”.
The mayor of Portimão also added that, in this new school year, it was also necessary to “reopen rooms in schools that we had already given to the associative movement, as happened in Pedra Mourinha”.
In the neighboring municipality of Lagos, Sara Coelho, councilor for Education, told the Sul Informação which, this academic year, opens «two more 1st cycle classes and four secondary classes». But there are also classes that close: at the beginning of the year there is one less 2nd cycle class and two fewer 3rd cycle classes, he added.
There was also a need to reinforce, in terms of facilities, the EB 2,3 Tecnopolis School, from the Júlio Dantas School Group. «This Group is overcrowded, at the limit of its capacity in the 2nd and 3rd cycle».
Despite being one of the most recent schools (it opened in 2010), Tecnopolis needs, the councilor admits, a «requalification and expansion intervention».
For this year, monoblocks (containers) were rented to be installed in this educational establishment and increase its capacity by eight rooms.
In Loulé, vice-president Ana Machado, responsible for Education, announces that the Chamber will “open two educational establishments: the recently built EB/JI Hortas de Santo António II School, in Loulé, with seven new classrooms (1 .th cycle and kindergarten)”, as well as “EB/JI Fonte Santa, in Quarteira, will be reactivated, with two new classrooms”.
Ana Machado highlights that «the arrival of new enrollments of students from other countries is a daily reality in the municipality of Loulé!» Currently, schools in Loulé have students of «102 different nationalities», and «in recent years, the increase in students has occurred consistently».
The schools that suffer the most pressure are those on the coast, «namely in the parishes of Almancil and Quarteira».
In Loulé, as in most Algarve municipalities, the Municipal Councils do not limit themselves to reacting to the increase in students. There are plans to respond to this greater pressure in the coming years.
Thus, for example, the EB2,3 Engº Duarte Pacheco School, in the city of Loulé itself, is being expanded in an area of 900 square meters, in work that began at the end of June and which, with an execution period of 18 months, is expected to be ready in time for the opening of the 2024/2025 academic year.
In this case, the intervention allows the creation of seven new classrooms and the requalification of two existing ones, as well as the creation of other spaces.
Until then, the school is under construction and alternatives had to be found to accommodate students this school year.
The vice-president of the Loulé Chamber explains that «the monoblocks to be installed at the school are to temporarily replace the rooms adjacent to the work. Due to noise (natural to any intervention), students will have their classes in monoblocks in an area that is more protected from the constraints of the work».
Ana Machado adds that the municipality is also preparing «the conversion of the former GNR space, in Quarteira, into a 1st cycle school and kindergarten, with seven new rooms, expected to open in the 2024/2025 academic year» .
But the mayors' concerns do not end with the opening of the school year.
This is because, taking as an example what has happened in recent years, «the biggest problem will be from January onwards, which is when more immigrants arrive, especially Brazilians», highlighted the mayor of Portimão.
The Education councilor of Lagos corroborates: data on the opening and closing of classes in the various education cycles in that municipality «are provisional, as an increase in the number of students is expected between January and February, as a result of migratory currents».
Despite this uncertainty, all of these responsible are unanimous in considering the arrival of children of different nationalities to the Algarve as positive.
«For Loulé City Council, it is a source of pride to see that families choose Loulé as a good municipality to live in. We consider his arrival to be an added value, because it goes against the trend in some areas of the country where the population is aging, while here in Loulé, we are witnessing rejuvenation", highlighted Ana Machado, in her statements to Sul Informação.
«Naturally, this increase in population also represents some challenges, such as multiculturalism and adapting the capacity of public services, such as schools and health, to welcome new residents. However, the municipality, attentive to new migratory flows, has managed to provide an effective response to the municipality's educational needs», concludes the vice-president of the Loulé Chamber.