Extra lessons for pupils with poor Dutch?

Flemish Education Minister Pascal Smet (socialist) has launched a proposal that could lead to pupils who do not have sufficient Dutch taking extra lessons.

Pupils with poor Dutch already get special lessons at the moment, but this happens during normal school time. The minister says that these are often not sufficient and is suggesting that extra lessons could be organised on free Wednesday afternoons or Saturday mornings.

Mr Smet argues that many non-Dutch-speakers do not qualify for their diploma because they have insufficient Dutch. He believes that the extra language lessons should start in primary school.

The Education Minister even wants to make the lessons obligatory for pupils who do not have enough Dutch.

Earlier Mr Smet announced plans for the introduction of a new language test that pupils will have to take at the age of 6 and again at the age of 12, when they enter secondary school. The language test that should not be equated with an entrance exam could start as early as next school year.

The introduction of extra Dutch lessons should be seen against the background of these new tests.

Mr Smet accepts that his proposal contained in his new policy document will trigger controversy. One of the reasons is because teachers will have to give extra lessons, while the minister has little cash to play with.