18 euro/day for school trips

The city authorities in Antwerp have come up with an alternative form of funding for school trips lasting more than one day. In future, every Antwerp child in the second and third year of primary school will be given a disc entitling them to a subsidy of 18 euro/night for a total of 12 nights board and lodgings during their school career.

The new system replaces the so-called sea and forest classes in the city’s own centres that were scrapped a few months ago as party of the city’s economy drive.

The scrapping of the sea and forest classes met with criticism from parents and from the socialist, green and far-left opposition on Antwerp City Council.

The system will be introduced at the start of the 2014-2015 school year is open to children in all schools, including Catholic and other faith schools in the city.

The Antwerp City Alderman responsible for Education Claude Marinower (liberal) told journalists that "Although this was the case with the previous system, in reality between 94% and 99% of those that benefitted came from local authority schools.”

Mr Marinower adds that the new system is fair as pupils from all schools will benefit. Furthermore, schools will now be free to choose how, when and where they organise school trips lasting more than one day, as one as the trips are part of the curriculum.

Parents that still find it difficult paying for the trips will be able to ask for extra help from the city’s Social Fund that has been given extra cash by Antwerp’s nationalist/Christian democrat/socialist coalition.