James Arthur Photography

Flanders and The Netherlands to cooperate to tackle teacher shortages

Flanders and The Netherlands have agreed to set up a working party that will look into how the issue teacher shortages can be addressed. Staff shortages in schools is an issue in both Flanders and The Netherlands. The agreement to make efforts address it is just one of the measures agreed at the Dutch-Flemish summit at Middelburg in the Dutch province of Zeeland.   

At the summit the Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois (nationalist) and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte also discussed the Brexit and further steps were made on the thorny issue of the Iron Rhine, a freight railway line connecting the port of Antwerp with the Ruhr area in Germany.  

Every two years the Dutch and Flemish governments hold a bilateral summit to discuss cross-border issues and to strengthen cooperation.  The fourth such summit took place at Middelburg Abbey on Monday.  

Teacher shortages was an issue that was at the top of the agenda. According to the Flemish Education Minister Hilde Crevits (Christian democrat) between 5,000 and 7,000 new teachers will need to be found each year by 2024. The Dutch Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (progressive liberal) is also on the lookout for new teachers. The Dutch Education Ministry expects there to be a shortfall of 3,000 full time teachers by 2020.

Ms Crevits and Ms Van Engelshoven have decided to set up a task force to tackle the issue of teacher shortages.

The Iron Rhine

As at previous Flemish-Dutch summits, the Iron Rhine rail link between Antwerp and Germany’s industrial heart was the subject of much discussion.

Earlier this year the Flemish transport Minister Ben Weyts (nationalist) believed  that a breakthrough had finally been made after a study favoured the so-called 3RX rout that would go via the Dutch cities of Roermond and  Venlo.

At the summit it was agreed that The Netherlands and Flanders will take part the international workgroup on the rail project that the German government hopes to launch.   

Brexit and climate change

In addition to this the Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois and his Dutch colleague Mark Rutte discussed climate change objectives and Brexit. 

Ghent University and Campus Zeeland signed a declaration of intent on cooperation in the field of maritime research. Furthermore a Flemish-Dutch innovation and science day will be organized next year.