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Free after-school activities, Portuguese key to tackling the imbalance

  • Children aged 6 to 10 years have free after-school activities in Portugal. Ensuring universal participation in these activities has been beneficial in tackling the socio-economic and consequent academic imbalances of Portuguese pupils and in reducing school failure, among others.
Garapen pertsonalerako, autoestimurako, emozioak gestionatzeko, hezkidetzarako, harremanetarako, elkar zaintzarako… aukera paregabea izan daitezke eskolaz kanpoko jarduerak. Argazkia: Racool Studio / Freepik

05 December 2023 - 01:49
Last updated: 06:07

In Portugal, all schools offer free after-school activities from first to fourth grade. It is a consequence of the 1986 educational law, adopted with broad political and social consensus, and the key has been that school failure has been reduced from 50% to 6% in 20 years. He picked it up 3Cat. The activities are financed by the Government and are managed and organised by municipalities, schools and leisure enterprises (their operation varies from municipality to municipality).

The activities are optional, but approximately 85% of the country's students participate. As part of education, ensuring universal access to after-school activities has become a way to address multiple imbalances. In short, they complement and enrich formal education, so many educators have denounced that equal opportunities are not guaranteed and that the exclusion of some children from these networks is discriminatory.

The prominence that Portuguese municipalities have taken for about fifteen years is important in all this: they acquired various educational competencies and since then the municipalities directly participate in the Curricular Enrichment Activities. The measure is so successful that in some cases, even after the fourth year of Primary Education, several municipalities have decided to maintain the gratuity of extracurricular activities in the fifth and sixth grades, bearing the majority of the economic cost of these activities.

The measure is so successful that in some cases several municipalities have decided to keep activities free after the fourth grade of primary school.

Exclusion, loss of networks

Personal development, self-esteem, management of emotions, co-education, relationship, mutual care, deepening in the ludic aspect, strengthening the Basque country in the informal spaces… are a unique opportunity, as we explained in this report. Extracurricular actions favor their own potentialities, skills and motivations, “and being out means, perhaps, limiting your ability and your talent.” Sometimes these are activities related to the academic field, and the conclusion for those left out is clear: they even lag behind in the academic career.

It also involves the loss of networks: “Children are not going to play football or ballet alone, something that makes them very good, many factors can be worked, and for many it is fundamental to feel part of a team of these characteristics; it is more, sometimes it can become their second family, it acquires a great centrality in their lives, not to say in adolescence,” said the educator street Amaia Bergara.


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