First 'social orientation' exam puts new Flemish civic integration path on track
On Wednesday, 17 newcomers took their civic integration exam for social orientation. The course, taught in 28 languages, is part of Flanders' new civic integration path. "Those who fail the exam must retake the course", Flemish minister for Civic integration and Equal opportunities Bart Somers stressed.
"Since March, the civic integration path for newcomers looks completely different," says Flemish minister for Civic integration and Equal opportunities Bart Somers (Open VLD), who attended the first exam day. From now on, newcomers must register with the VDAB within two months and pass a Dutch language exam and a social orientation exam after taking the courses provided for that purpose.
"Taking the exam is similar to getting a driving licence. Newcomers sit together in a room and are asked 41 random questions on a computer from a pool of hundreds of questions. The questions cover various topics, such as how education works in our society or how to separate waste properly. Things you need to know to participate fully in our society," the minister noted.
"Those who fail the exam must retake the course. Without sufficient knowledge of our basic values and the Dutch language, one cannot fully participate in our society," Somers stressed.
The requirement to pass the exam has already met resistance from several civil society organisations. The fact that students now have to pay a minimum of 360 euros for the civic integration programme is also a point of debate. For instance, the Dutch and social orientation courses cost 90 euros each. Taking the exam also costs 90 euros.
To brush up on their Dutch as much as possible, newcomers are assigned a 'buddy' for at least 40 hours. This is necessary, as Dutch knowledge will also be subject to stricter requirements.
#FlandersNewsService | Flemish Minister of Domestic Policy and Living Together Bart Somers
pictured during a plenary session of the Flemish Parliament in Brussels, Wednesday 13 July 2022.
© BELGA PHOTO Dirk Waem