Citizenship courses: no exam, no certificate

In future, newcomers to Flanders that take a citizenship course will have to pass an exam before they are given a certificate. Citizenship courses are obligatory for all newcomers from outside the EU. Many newcomers from other EU countries also take the courses voluntarily. Previously, those taking the course received a certificate without taking an exam.
Jasper Jacobs

The newcomers will have to pass a tests on society and institutions and Dutch as a foreign language.

The Flemish Minister responsible for integration Liesbeth Homans (photo above, nationalist) told the VRT that "By linking the certificate to an exam it will gain in value, in the first place for the newcomer, but also for employers and society as a whole.”

A citizenship certificate can also be a plus for those wishing to obtain Belgian nationality, as knowledge of one of the languages native to Belgium is a condition. The new tests will be introduced from 1 January 2016.

More taking the course voluntarily

The number of people taking citizenship courses voluntarily has gone up consistently since 2011. In 2009 5,500 people took citizenship courses voluntarily. By last year this had increased to 11,879. The Integration Minister Liesbeth Homans describes this as “a positive evolution”.

"But by taking structural measures to tailor the courses to suit the individual needs of newcomers we hope that even more people will take them voluntarily”, Ms Homans added.

The Minister wants more evening class courses and courses at the weekend for those that are already in employment.

A new initiative will be launched aimed at mothers with low levels of academic achievement that have young children. Child care will be offered while the mothers take their course. In addition to Dutch lessons, the mothers will be offered tips in parenting technics that will assist their children’s development and boost their life chances.

Special courses will also be offered for youngsters between the ages of 16 and 18.