All pupils in Flanders to get digital ID card

Summary

As soon as 1 January, every pupil in Flemish schools will receive an ID card with crucial information about their learning abilities

Cutting the paperwork

Flemish education minister Hilde Crevits has announced that every pupil in Flanders will be administered a digital ID card by 2019. This will prevent valuable information about pupils from getting lost, she said.

The idea would be to quickly pass information from one school to another when a child changes schools. This would include marks and specifics related to every pupil such as learning disabilities or special needs.

The new measure, meant to come into force by 1 January, 2019, is part of the minister’s goal of reducing the amount of paperwork facing school staff and teachers in the region. The level of administration expected of teachers and principals is one of the biggest complaints levied by schools.

“Every year, the same forms must be filled in, which is frustrating for both pupils and teachers,” said Crevits. “I want us to avoid having to do that as there is so much time lost to paperwork. We need to make as much use of digital opportunities as possible.”

Crevits’ emphasised that only “indispensable” information would need to be recorded on the ID, “such as reading problems”. Anything parents wanted to keep private, however, would be left off the card.

No ‘digital rap sheet’

Both teachers and Flanders’ educational networks have praised the idea but want to clarify some points, such as a pupil’s right to start over. “We must always be aware that children deserve a second chance,” said Pedro De Bryckere, an education expert at Artevelde University College in Ghent. “This ID must not turn into some kind of rap sheet that dogs pupils as they switch schools.”

Lieven Bove, head of Catholic Education Flanders, also pointed to privacy issues. “There must be very strict regulations for who is allowed to see and to record information,” he said.

Photo: Anthony Dehez/BELGA

Educational system

The Flemish educational system is divided into two levels: primary (age six to 12) and secondary school (12 to 18). Education is compulsory for children between the ages of six and 18.
Types - There are three educational networks in Flanders: the Flemish Community’s GO! network, and publicly funded education – either publicly or privately run.
Not enough space - In recent years, Flemish schools have been struggling with persistent teacher shortages and a growing lack of school spaces.
No tuition fees - Nursery, primary and secondary school are free in Flanders.
1

million school-going children in 2013

30

million euros Flemish education budget for new school infrastructures in 2013

11

percent of boys leaving secondary school without a diploma