Governments work together to take refugee kids to school

Summary

The Flemish and federal governments will fund school transport for refugee children, using bikes, buses and collective vehicles

Chances for the future

The governments of Flanders and Belgium are funding the transport of refugee children between the reception centres where they live and pre-school and primary school. Journeys of less than 4km will be covered by the federal government, with longer distances paid for by the Flemish government. The agreement was made between Flanders’ education minister, Hilde Crevits, and Theo Francken, secretary of state for asylum and migration.

There will be a customised approach for each centre, based on bikes, existing bus lines and collective bus transport. The Agency for Education Services, schools, public transport authority De Lijn, the federal agency supporting asylum-seekers, the Red Cross and local governments will work together to streamline the service.

The government of Flanders is contributing €300,000 in subsidies to the service for 2016. Subsidies can be awarded to all organisations that support collective care, such as school directors, non-profit organisations focusing on school transport, municipal governments and charities working for asylum centres.

“Education offers young refugees chances for the future,” said Crevits. “We have also taken various measures concerning reception education for children who don’t speak Dutch, and schools with non-Dutch-speaking toddlers also receive extra funding for language guidance.”

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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