Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, said in his Christmas Eve message that the biggest national deficit is in knowledge and he said he would continue the fight against poverty and job insecurity, in the name of a “decent society.”

António Costa chose to deliver his speech, not from the official residence in São Bento, but from the Lumiar Kindergarten, in Lisbon.

“I want to underline that – just like at Christmas – children have to be at the centre of our concerns every day and that their education has to be the first of our priorities as families and as a society,” said Costa.

In his message, the Prime Minister maintained that knowledge “is the key to the future”, which is why his government has set as “a fundamental goal to have pre-school education for all children from three years of age” and “launch the programme Qualifica, directed especially at the education and training of adults.”

“In order to have a demanding and informed citizenship, in order to have better jobs, more productive companies and a more competitive economy, we must invest in culture and science, education and lifelong learning. We want to build a decent society where everyone can access knowledge,” said the PM.

Costa also mentioned measures by his Government to “eradicate” poverty, mainly directed against child poverty, such as extending the increase in child allowance to children up to three years of age, as well as changes in education the adoption of “a new evaluation model,” which “is concerned to detect the educational needs of each child as soon as possible.”

“We do not want anyone to be left behind. The public school is the universal guarantee of quality education, just as the National Health Service guarantees everyone access to the best health care,” stressed the smiley one.

For António Costa, “the biggest and true deficit” when Portugal is compared with other European countries “is that of knowledge”.

“The excellent results recently achieved in international studies show the success of the effort, dedication and quality of our students, educators and teachers and the continued investment that families and the country have made since April 25th in culture and education, science and training, to overcome this historical backwardness. This is the path we have to take,” the prime minister said.

Costa argued that poverty and job insecurity are “the biggest enemies of a better economy.”

“We will have a better economy with better companies and better jobs,” concluded the prime minister, in a speech where he also has a special word for members of “the Armed Forces, the Security Forces, emergency services and to all Portuguese who are working on Christmas Eve, many abroad, away from their families.”

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