Online learning will be part of new normal for secondary schools

Summary

Wednesday mornings will go digital in Flemish secondary schools when they reopen in September

Made to measure

The experience of distance learning in Flemish schools during the coronavirus crisis has been so positive that education minister Ben Weyts wants it to become part of the new normal. When secondary schools reopen on 1 September, Wednesdays will be digital.

“This is an excellent opportunity to modernise our education and to offer tailor-made education at the same time,” Weyts explained.

Wednesday is usually a half-day in Flemish schools, with pupils attending class only in the morning. On these morning in the future, pupils who need additional help with classroom material will get tailored support online to go over it again.

The first wave of corona surprised us all, but we will be better prepared for the next school year

- Education minister Ben Weyts

Those who have already mastered their lessons will get more challenging exercises or broader learning material. “That way we keep everyone on board, and we continue to stimulate students,” Weyts said.

In order to help secondary schools rise to this challenge, the government of Flanders is providing an additional €26 million for information and communications technologies. The extra resources can be used for new hardware and software, or to pay for additional support.

“The first wave of corona surprised us all, but we will be better prepared for the next school year,” Weyts said. “We can only guarantee the right to learn if we invest more in IT.”

Parental leave

The resources will be divided between schools according to the number and type of pupils, with more money allocated for those with a lower socio-economic status. “We absolutely want to avoid the most vulnerable students being left behind as soon as there is a switch to distance learning,” Weyts said.

The money is part of a €50 million package that includes €9 million for ICT in primary schools, and compensation for cancelled school trips, protective equipment and cleaning. Discussions are also being opened on the matter of allowing parents with pupils in secondary school leave from work or the ability to work at home on Wednesdays.

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