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Children in Macao are in ‘urgent’ need of Portuguese-language speech therapists

A local Portuguese kindergarten says it struggles to employ a suitable speech therapist and describes government support as barely adequate.

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ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

A local Portuguese-language kindergarten is struggling to hire a speech therapist, something its director says is part of a widespread problem in Macao.

Felizbina Carmelita Gomes, who heads D. José da Costa Nunes (DJCN) public preschool, told Lusa that a number of her 255 pupils urgently needed professionally administered speech therapy. To help cope with the staffing gap, Gomes was working with government education services, but described levels of support as barely adequate.

Gomes said that the limited health and education benefits most foreign workers received in Macao – along with the relatively low salary on offer – were barriers to luring qualified speech therapists from Portugal. “I do not see much interest from the Portuguese to come here,” she noted.

According to Gomes, the difficulty in getting residency status in Macao also “really” harmed the SAR’s chances of importing competent professionals from overseas. 

[See more: Migrant workers are preferring other destinations to Macao]

Last year, due to a new law on talent recruitment, it became harder for Portuguese citizens to live and work in Macao

The previous law had included special provisions for Portuguese nationals based on their country’s historic connections to the territory. According to Lusa, the SAR now only grants residency to Portuguese who already have relatives in the city or to those with prior connections to Macao.

A government mandated obligation to prioritise local hires has reportedly made “blue cards” (the permits held by most foreign employees in Macao) less desirable to non-residents in recent years. These offer fewer benefits than residency permits, and are not a path to permanent residency – making Macao a less appealing option for Portuguese nationals than it once was. They also carry the limitation of being issued on a quota basis.

The president of the Macao Speech Therapists Association, Ronald Hoi, told Lusa that there were currently 81 speech therapists working in the city.

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