"Right now, we're no longer in a question of whether it's group A, B or C. It's [the subject of] Computer Science, it's Physical Chemistry, it's History. There are a number of subject groups that already have great difficulties. The lack of teachers has worsened compared to the previous school year, and is now transversal to the different islands, even in schools in the major urban centres", the president of the SDPA, António Fidalgo, announced.

Speaking at a press conference in Ponta Delgada, the union leader pointed out "the unavoidable gravity of the lack of teachers with professional qualifications to supply the needs" of schools.

"It's a general concern and is going to get worse, because the number of students entering university courses via teaching has been residual", he said.

António Fidalgo said that "even in the schools in Ponta Delgada", the largest city in the Azores, there are students who "at the moment don't have teachers in various subjects".

"In this moment, the lack is not only in the smaller islands," said the president of the SDPA.

According to António Fidalgo, "it was assumed that there would be candidates for all the vacancies made available, which, in fact, has not happened", noting that "lately" there are "fewer and fewer people on the competition lists".

According to the union, "in the Competition for the Offer of Employment for Hiring on a Resolutive Term, 587 teachers were placed (365 placed on 24 August, 204 on 7 September and 18 on the 9 September)".

"In the 24 August placement, the union said that "52 vacancies remained unfilled, due to a lack of candidates, corresponding to around 12% of the total number of vacancies made available".

António Fidalgo also said that "for the 2022/2023 school year, the Ministry made use of 587 teachers hired on a temporary basis, however, it only contracted 143 teachers, thus perpetuating the precarious working conditions of teachers" in the region.

"The scenario described above, and because all the candidates to the Regional Directorate of Education's (DRE) Job Offer Competition for Fixed Term Contracts had been exhausted, forced the availability of 84 timetables on the Azores Public Employment Exchange (BEPA), even before the start of teaching activities, 51 of which were complete and annual," he said.

António Fidalgo criticised the "devaluation" of teaching careers, the result of "mistaken measures" taken by the national and regional governments.

"We have fewer and fewer candidates who want to pursue a career and, in universities, students are not looking for degrees, nor master's degrees via teaching. We have reached a situation where there is a shortage of teachers, with an increasingly ageing teaching staff that has met the needs of the Region", he said.

The unattractiveness of teaching careers, with an "almost miserable" salary, was also pointed out as a consequence for the lack of teachers.

For the SDPA, the "first essential measure is the creation of school boards" and then the creation of incentives both at the fiscal level, as well as in terms of support for travel and renting, or even buying a house to establish teachers on the islands.

On the other hand, the SDPA said it is "closely monitoring" the implementation of the adoption of digital manuals in the 5th and 8th grades, considering it "urgent" that the organic units distribute equipment "not only to students, but also to teachers" covered by the measure.