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Dutch-speaking Brussels schools embrace multilingual projects

14:47 01/11/2023

More than 50 Dutch-speaking schools in the Brussels region have signed up to a multilingualism project to provide educational support in French, English or in other languages spoken by pupils at home - as well as Dutch.

The number of schools taking part in the Flemish Community Commission (VGC) multilingual plan is nearly double the number seen in the last school year, said Sven Gatz, Brussels minister for the promotion of bilingualism.

The VGC has introduced a special regulation, with subsidies attached, to enable Dutch-speaking primary and secondary schools to set up multilingual projects. This year, 52 schools have taken up the VGC’s call to do so.

Welcoming the news, Gatz said: “We want to reinforce Dutch-speaking in and around the school, while at the same time making our students aware of multilingualism, one of the richnesses of our town.”

Noting that there are nearly twice as many schools and projects involved in the VGC scheme as there were last year, he said: “This makes me feel very positive for the future of our students.

“Effective teaching of Dutch in a multilingual environment allows students to live and develop in a culturally diverse society and gives them a head start in learning other languages.”

The 52 schools will receive a total of €107,000 to implement their projects. Schools that co-operate with an educational institution from another linguistic community will receive an additional grant.

In practice, many schools are buying bilingual books in Dutch and in another language spoken at home, and are encouraging parents to read them. Other schools are making posters with "linguistic passports" for their pupils.

Further initiatives involve using Dutch and other languages to create a musical comedy or collaborations between Dutch- and German-speaking schools.

These projects will soon be placed on the website - an online guide for schools containing information and support for multilingualism.

The Flemish Community Commission (VGC) is the base and the hub of the Flemish community in the Brussels region, for anyone who wishes to connect to the Dutch-speaking network in Brussels.

It is the government body responsible for urban policy, culture, youth, sport, education, training, student affairs, wellbeing, health and the family.

Written by Liz Newmark