Austrian Education Ministry criticized for crisis management – ​​

Austrian Education Minister Martin Polaschek of the Conservative Party (ÖVP) will have to explain where his department went wrong in response to the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and digitalisation.

Polashek was invited to Ö1on the morning show of Morgenjournal, Wednesday April 13, where he was asked several hard-hitting questions about the work of his ministry.

Regarding the employment of Ukrainian-speaking teaching staff, Polaschek said previous concerns no longer apply.

“We don’t know how many will come because we don’t have any numbers yet on the number of Ukrainian teachers,” Polaschek said. His ministry calls on everyone to come forward to be active in the classrooms after the Easter holidays.

The minister also confirmed that COVID-19 testing in schools would also change after the Easter holidays, when testing will only be needed once a week due to falling infection figures.

On April 13, 12,471 new infections were reported and the seven-day incidence fell below 922. The number of hospitals also dropped significantly.

Polaschek was also asked about digitalization in schools. Basic digital education for fifth and sixth graders is supposed to start in the fall, but a quarter of schools have yet to receive the necessary equipment.

The opposition also reacted quickly to the interview.

Martina Künsberg Sarre, education spokesperson for NEOS, said it was not yet clear who would teach digital education from the fall and that teachers should also be equipped with the resources and knowledge appropriate. She also pointed out that the Ministry of Education still refuses to make advanced training mandatory.

SPÖ spokeswoman for education Petra Vorderwinkler also demanded answers as to whether and how the ministry is prepared for the 5,000 Ukrainian children already in Austrian schools.

Polaschek, who has only been in office since December 2021, is “ready to step down”, she added.