Belgians are more happy than average, with the country in the top half of a table of nations on quality of life, according to the latest Better Living Index from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In a list of 36 countries – the member states of the OECD plus Russia and Brazil – Belgium comes in 14th, with high scores for incomes, comfort and work-life balance. The country does less well on employment and pay differences between the lowest and highest earners. www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org
This year’s award for Teacher of the Year, given out by Klasse magazine, has gone to a group of 11 male staff members, each of whom represents one of the essential elements of the DNA of the perfect teacher, the magazine said. The 10 teachers and one handyman, who come from schools all over Flanders, represent professionalism, drive, patience and discretion, humour, a sympathetic ear and more. Klasse also declared 2012 the year of the male teacher, whose presence in Flemish schools is on the decline.
Groen member of the Flemish Parliament Luckas Vander Taelen has called on the government to move Flanders House in New York to a more accessible location. Flanders House is located on the 44th floor of the New York Times building in Manhattan, but Vander Taelen, who visited recently, said that the entry has heavy security, including passport checks, and visitors to the various exhibitions and other events organised there have to announce their arrival 24 hours in advance. www.flandershouse.org
Godfried Lannoo, son of the founder of the publishing house of the same name, has died at the age of 85. Lannoo started in the family business in 1945 and built the company into one of the foremost publishers in the Dutch language. Lannoo publishes books by writers such as Marc Reynebeau and Phil Bosmans, photographers like Carl De Keyser and Stephan Vanfleteren and the best-selling SOS cookbook series by TV chef Piet Huysentruyt. www.lannoo.be
Leuven mayor Louis Tobback has warned he will revive a proposal to shut down cafes on the university city’s Oude Markt at night if complaints about noise and disturbances continue. Tobback has promised to introduce a curfew between 3.00 and 6.00 after the October elections.
Flanders could be facing a waiting time of two years for electrical work on new construction in the near future, the training centre Vormelek announced. In the last year, the number of open job vacancies has increased by one-third, while the number of newly qualified electricians continues to fall – by 20% over the last five years. Contributing to the problem are rising numbers of electrical gadgets in modern homes.
Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, now a member of the European Parliament, requested a visit with opposition party leader Julia Tymoshenko, during his trip to Ukraine last weekend. As Flanders Today went to press, Verhofstadt was expected to see Tymoshenko, who is in hospital. Tymoshenko recently abandoned a hunger strike started in protest at her conviction for abuse of power while in government, and her case has led to a boycott by EU institutions of the forthcoming European football championships in Ukraine and Poland.
Thursday, 31 May, is World Day without Tobacco, and 20 hospitals in Flanders and seven in Brussels are offering a free test for smokers to measure the effect of the habit on their health. Every visitor will be given a personal passport to present to the family doctor, who will then be able to order further tests as well as medical treatment. www.dagzondertabak.be
People in Flanders are economising mainly on clothing, food and restaurant visits in response to difficult economic times, according to a survey carried out by the Christian Mutuality. More than 90% of people said they were cutting spending on new clothes, with 86% buying less expensive food and 55% going out to eat less often. Energy prices are also a concern: 68% have turned down the heat, and 28% left the car in the garage more often.
The Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels and the federal environment ministry have launched a public campaign to improve biodiversity in the North Sea, using the characters of Gust the endangered oyster and Suzette the grey shrimp. www.waarisgust.be