Flemish Community education body sells monastery and castles to fund new school buildings

GO!, the autonomous Flemish Community education body, is putting some striking castles and historical buildings up for sale. With the proceeds, the second-largest Flemish education provider wants to construct new school buildings. De Standaard reported this on Thursday.

GO! organises official education in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. It is an autonomous body of the Flemish government which functions independently of the Flemish minister of Education.

With 3,700 buildings on 830 sites in Flanders and Brussels, accounting for a land area of 13 million square metres, GO! is one of Belgium's largest property owners. In 2020, it set up a real estate team to sell part of its vast inheritance, in this case, 56 buildings. Most of these sites are outdated schools. But there are also architectural and historical masterpieces among them.

"In the past, many castles were bought by the Belgian state," Yves Heylen, GO's real estate team coordinator, told De Standaard. "It used the buildings to organise state education, the forerunner of Community Education."

In recent years, GO! has sold buildings worth 100 million euros. "Many buildings do not meet contemporary education standards," said Heylen. "Some schools need new infrastructure, but there are too few resources. By selling old buildings, we can put up new ones. We are selling the past to invest in the future", he concluded.

GO! calculated that it needs at least 260 million euros annually to replace and maintain buildings. However, the education body currently receives 72 million a year, which is insufficient to cover the costs. Flemish minister of Ben Weyts (N-VA) did catch up in financing school buildings. But the backlog remains enormous.


#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO James Arthur Gekiere


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