More than 1 in 5 Flemish secondary school pupils doesn't speak Dutch at home
In vocational secondary schools in Flanders, 28 per cent of pupils do not have Dutch as their home language. In general, cultural and technical secondary schools, the figures are 16, 12 and 18 per cent respectively.
According to new figures from Statistics Flanders, 21 per cent of pupils in all Flemish secondary schools combined speak a language other than Dutch at home. This figure has increased since the school year 2013-2014. In primary education, the figure is 25 per cent, and in kindergarten, 28 per cent of children speak another language at home.
Flemish Education minister Ben Weyts of Flemish nationalists N-VA proposed at the beginning of the school year that pupils should only be allowed to speak Dutch in school and on the playground. This drew criticism from the education sector.
Schools free to choose
Koen Pelleriaux, head of the Flemish public institution for community education GO!, said he was not keen on forcing pupils to speak Dutch in the playground, which he said would also take away part of the pupils' identity. Lieven Boeve, director of Catholic education in Flanders, said schools were free to choose their strategy.
Weyts' proposals are part of a wider action plan to spend 20 million euros a year on improving the Dutch language skills of children whose first language is not Dutch. Primary and secondary schools where more than half of the pupils have another home language will receive an extra 250 euros per pupil. In total, 80,000 children will receive additional support.
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