Brussels universities call for multi-lingual secondary education in the capital

The Vice-Chancellors of Brussels Dutch and French-medium free universities (VUB and ULB) have called for state-funded multi-lingual secondary education to be made available for those that want it. The Vice-Chancellor of the Dutch-medium Free University VUB Caroline Pauwels told the Brussels regional news platform Bruzz that “Education in Brussels is not adapted to the multi-lingual reality in the city” She has joined forces with the Vice-Chancellor of the Francophone Free University ULB, Yvon Englert in a call for multi-lingual secondary education.

In an interview with the dailies ‘De Standaard’, ‘Het Nieuwsblad’ and ‘Le Soir’ Caroline Pauwels said “For real multi-lingual education you have to go to expensive, inaccessible European schools. This creates an elite and social exclusion”.

She believes that the setting up of a multi-lingual secondary school funded by the public purse is long overdue. However, neither Vice-Chancellor has any firm plans as to how this can be achieved. Both universities say that they will offer cooperation and support to any initiative to set up such as school.

Linguistic experts from the two universities will now work out the practicalities. French or Dutch would be the second language of instruction with English being given “a prominent role”.      

There is currently no publically-funded fully multi-lingual school in the capital. Setting such a school up poses a number of legal and financial issues as education in Belgium is funded by the languages communities.   

The First Minister in the Brussels regional government Rudi Vervoort (Francophone socialist), and the Brussels Finance Minister Guy Vanhengel (Flemish liberal) told the daily ‘De Standaard’ that a feasibility study on multi-lingual education should be ready before the regional, federal and European elections in May.

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