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Francophone education minister wants to make Dutch compulsory in the future

13:58 02/10/2022

The education minister for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, Caroline Désir, has indicated that she wants Dutch or German language classes to be compulsory for French-speaking students beginning in their third year of primary school.

But Désir’s timeline for implementing such a requirement is long: she hopes to make these language courses a requirement only at the start of the 2027-2028 school year, La Libre reports.

Dutch language courses are already mandatory for such French-speaking students in Brussels and in some Walloon municipalities along the language border (Comines-Warneton, Mouscron, Flobecq and Enghien).

But in other parts of Wallonia, students do not take on a second language until their fifth year of primary school - either Dutch, English or German.

Dutch-speaking ministers have long bemoaned the fact that French-speaking students show seemingly less interest in learning Dutch than their Dutch-speaking counterparts show when it comes to studying French.

In 2019-2020, 64% of sixth-year pupils in Wallonia took a Dutch language course, but the figure drops to 47% for secondary school students.

In the 2020-2021 school year, an estimated 28% of Walloon pupils in their sixth year of secondary education had never had even a single hour of Dutch education during their entire schooling.

Désir wants to change this by making Dutch lessons compulsory from the 2027-2028 school year onwards.

Written by Helen Lyons