Education calls for urgent energy support: “We must avoid schools closing due to high energy bills”

Education calls for urgent energy support: “We must avoid schools closing due to high energy bills”
Education calls for urgent energy support: “We must avoid schools closing due to high energy bills”

“Schools want to offer quality education, but are finding it increasingly difficult financially,” says Lieven Boeve, head of Catholic education. “Many valuable pedagogical initiatives are in danger of being scrapped as a result. We want to avoid at all costs that schools have to close because they can no longer pay their energy bills. Due to the fact that much more money is now being made available for energy, many valuable pedagogical initiatives are in danger of being scrapped”.

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!).

An 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.

Another example: the PIVA in Antwerp. The provincial institute sees the energy costs within the operating budget increase from 19 percent in 2020-21 to no less than 48 percent in 2022-23. The Sint-Agnes Institute in Hoboken, with 720 students, paid 75,000 euros for energy in 2020 (9 percent of the operating resources). In 2021, that amount rose to 88,000 euros (11 percent) and in 2022 there is a risk that 130,000 euros will have to be paid (17 percent).

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“Schools don’t want to pass the costs on to parents and students and they certainly want to prioritize everything to do with quality education. They will therefore be more inclined to postpone planned, sustainable investments for the long haul”, the Educational Association of Cities and Municipalities (OVSG) also responds. “Just like for companies and families, there must also be measures for school boards”, says the organization.

Appropriate compensation

In order to prevent schools from falling financially to the ground, there must be a full indexation of operating resources in secondary education instead of the current 60 percent, it sounds. In addition, the education providers are calling for a reduction of the VAT on electricity to 6 percent and they are asking for compensation for energy and resource-intensive training. And if additional heating is required, for example due to a tightening of the corona measures, this must also be accompanied by appropriate compensation, according to education.

dThe statement is made by Catholic Education Flanders, Community Education GO!, the OVSG, Provincial Education Flanders (POV) and the Consultation for Small Education Providers (OKO)..

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Education calls urgent energy support avoid schools closing due high energy bills

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