2,500 a year don’t finish primary education


Education experts are responding this week to news that not only are more than 2800 students a year not graduating from Flemish secondary schools, 2,500 a year aren’t getting past primary school

Nursery schools vital, says Crevits

According to a report from the Policy Research Centre for Educational and School careers, about 2,500 youth enter the labour market in Flanders every year without a certification that they even finished primary school. In 2010, the year on which researchers focused, an additional 2,845 students left secondary school without a diploma.

Flemish law stipulates that students older than 14 cannot stay in primary education and have to make the transition to secondary education, even without passing primary school. The chance that they then get a diploma in secondary school, said the researchers, is slim.

“These youngsters make up our principal focus group, but it is also the group that is most difficult to reach,” Bartelijne van den Boogert of Flemish employment agency VDAB told De Morgen. “If they come to us, we often advise them to follow a professional training, but they are not always sufficiently mature for that.”

In response to the news, researcher Ides Nicaise of the University of Leuven said that primary schools should only send those who pass on to secondary education. Raymonda Verdyck, managing director of the community education network GO! called on the government to lower the compulsory age to start school, which is now six. Verdyck also said that it might be wise to assemble classes on the basis of academic ability instead of age.

Flemish education minister Hilde Crevits told Radio 1 that she is not in favour of lowering the age at which schooling is compulsory but sees room to encourage more parents to send their children to nursery schools. “Language learning starts in nursery school,” she said. “Children there also acquire skills to deal with a  group, just like other basic skills that then make primary school easier.”

According to the minister, 96% of the toddlers go to nursery school. “We now have to take efforts to reach the remaining four percent,” she said. Crevits also stressed the importance of proper screenings to determine whether a child should enter regular or special education and of an action plan against truancy.

Crevits also stressed that she doesn’t think it is appropriate to keep students older than 14 in primary school.


photo courtesy Broeders van Liefde