Priority to Dutch speakers in Brussels’ schools challenged

Summary

Bruno De Lille, Brussels’ secretary of state, is calling into question the system whereby Dutch-speaking children have priority in school placements in Brussels

Dutch-speaking kids improve quality of education, counters CD&V

Brussels secretary of state, Bruno De Lille, (Groen) wants to abolish the priority regulation in Brussels’ Dutch-speaking education system. Children with at least one Dutch-speaking parent now get priority for 55% of the places.

“We don’t want to create second-class citizens in our city,” said De Lille, “and that’s what you do when you tell a Brusselaar with, for example, Turkish as a first language to wait until the Dutch speakers have a spot at a school.”

Groen also declared the necessity for about 16,000 more places by 2015 to ensure a place for every child. The party calculated that 40 extra primary schools and 15 secondary schools need to be built.

Benjamin Dalle of CD&V responded that the priority rule has an important pedagogical goal. “A minimum presence of Dutch speakers in a class is necessary to offer quality education,” he said. “With only about 10% of Dutch speakers, the quality will be reduced for everyone.”

Dalle also feels that abolishing the priority rule would deter Dutch-speaking families from living in Brussels – already considered a difficulty. He agrees with Groen that more schools and places are needed. “If there is a surplus of places in a few years, we can review the regulation,” he stated. “But we do find that Dutch-speaking children should be able to follow classes in their own language.”

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