Back to school: 900,000 pupils return after shortened summer break

Around 900,000 pupils returned to school on Monday in Belgium's French-speaking Community, after the first shortened summer holidays. Due to the reform of the school calendar, the summer holidays in the south of the country last only seven weeks, instead of the two-month vacation that Flanders still adheres to.

Numerous reforms in recent months and years have caused widespread discontent in the French-speaking education branch, about both the reforms themselves and their pace. Now, nine months out from the 9 June parliamentary elections, no major legislative initiatives on education are expected.

"Teachers need rest," said Roland Lahaye, secretary-general of the French-speaking Christian education union CSC-Enseignement. "They should be given the chance to internalise the approved reforms, without additional new reforms."

Will Flanders follow?

Some have called for Flanders to follow the example of the French-speaking education system and shorten the summer holidays to reduce pupils' learning losses, among other things. Flemish Education minister Ben Weyts (N-VA, Flemish nationalists) says the debate has already been held and that, according to the Flemish Education Council and the Social and Economic Council of Flanders, there is currently no support for altering the school calendar.

"Everyone agrees that there is learning loss during a holiday, but the question is when that happens," he said. "I don't rule anything out for the future, but before we change anything, there has to be some scientific evidence."




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