Education sounds the alarm: “Avoid schools closing due to high energy bills”

Lieven Boeve, head of Catholic education. — © luc daelemans

The Flemish educational umbrella organizations are collectively sounding the alarm about rising energy prices. They ask the Flemish government to take urgent measures. “Schools want to offer quality education, but are finding it increasingly difficult financially,” says Lieven Boeve, head of Catholic education. Financial support is also necessary for the PIVA in Antwerp.

According to Lieven Boeve, many valuable pedagogical initiatives are in danger of being scrapped due to the high costs. “We want to avoid at all costs that schools have to close because they can no longer pay their energy bills,” he says.

The support is especially necessary for schools that need a lot of energy for their courses, such as the Provincial Institute PIVA in Antwerp, where catering courses are given. At PIVA, energy costs would rise to 1.6 million euros this school year, double their operating budget. “Those food departments require a lot of energy,” Koen Van Helden of PIVA told Radio2 on Thursday morning. “We have ovens or gas fires in every room. We are a bit in the thick of things.”

File image: PIVA. — © JHS

For example, RHIZO Kortrijk, a secondary school group of 4,500 students, has to pay an energy bill of no less than 900,000 euros in 2022, which corresponds to 21 percent of the operating resources. Schools must also use that money to buy didactic material. In 2020, RHIZO spent only 489,467 euros or 12.2 percent of the operating resources on energy.

To prevent schools from going under, the umbrella organizations are asking for a reduction in VAT to 6 percent for electricity and compensation for energy-consuming training, such as for woodworking and metalworking machines. “If a school has to skimp on didactic material, then the student is ultimately the victim,” says Koen Pelleriaux, head of Community Education (GO!).


The article is in Dutch


Tags: Education sounds alarm Avoid schools closing due high energy bills

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