Catholic schools introduce "people and society" as a new course to the expense of Dutch

Catholic schools in Flanders are to introduce a new course in secondary school as from September 2019, De Morgen reports. "People and society" should be an answer to our changing world. For this purpose, one hour of Dutch will be scrapped, which triggers anger with the Flemish nationalist N-VA. The socialist opposition also voiced criticism.

The new course should be an answer to new challenges in a changing society, the umbrella organisation of Catholic schools argues, and to meet the new standards concerning basic overall skills pupils should master when graduating from secondary school, the so-called eindtermen

The new course will involve citizenship (how does a real democracy work?), handling the (new) media (how to spot fake news, how to find reliable news sources, how to interpret a news report etc.), and financial en economic knowledge. "Today, these things are spread over different courses", says Lieven Boeve, the head of the Catholic education department. "We will bring this together in one course."  

Sacrificing one hour of Dutch when pupils' Dutch skills are getting worse, is incomprehensible to us

There are 27 hours a week, including 5 hours of Dutch. One hour of Dutch will be sacrificed to make room for "people and society". The leading polical player in Flanders, the Flemish nationalists of N-VA - who are often at loggerheads with the Catholic schools - labels the latest decision as "incomprehensible". "We are receiving signals that the knowledge of Dutch is getting worse, especially where the readin is concerned. Scrapping one hour of Dutch is a very bad signal", says Koen Daniëls.

Lieven Boeve is surprised: "Every school has five "open hours" on top of the 27 others in the weekly roster, which they can fill in as they wish. If needed, they can opt for Dutch, French or mathematics. And reading is not just something you practice in the Dutch lessons: pupils als improve their reading skills in the geography and history courses."

The Flemish socialists (SP.A) say they'd rather see one hour of religion scrapped to make room for the new course. 

Each school can still make its own choices if needed