Wallonia shakes up education system

1st June 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 June 2005, BRUSSELS – The much-criticised education system in francophone Belgium is to be reformed, it emerged on Wednesday.

1 June 2005

BRUSSELS – The much-criticised education system in francophone Belgium is to be reformed, it emerged on Wednesday.

Marie Arena, minister-president of the French community government, unveiled a ‘contract for schooling’ on Tuesday which she said would cut class sizes, boost the status of teachers and improve pupil results.

The contract set out 10 ‘priorities’, outlining around 50 measures which will be progressively implemented.

She pledged to take on more teachers at nursery level, primary schools and in small schools that have fewer than 50 pupils. From September, Arena said 680 extra teachers should be taken on, along with 700 the following year.

School heads were promised a better status and that they would receive extra funding to take on more administrators.

From now on, in secondary schools, Arena said all pupils up to the age of 14 would study the same for the bulk of their week – 28 hours of classes – "in order to avoid specialising."

On top of that, pupils will be given a choice of an extra four hours in a chosen subject, or two hours in two chosen subjects.

The plan was first presented last January, but has been amended in response to criticisms of measures such as the intention to scrap Latin teaching.

Arena conceded this week that schools could continue to teach Latin, as a support to the French language classes.

She said the measures outlined were also designed to fight against "ghetto schools", where poor or difficult pupils ended up lumped together. Schools are to be ordered to keep a chronological list of pupil applications to avoid some families being wrongly turned away.

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Subject: Belgian news

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