Schools may not oblige pupils to take part in climate demonstrations

The Careful Management Commission, a commission set up to ensure that school fulfil an number of obligations with regard to guarantying the quality of education given to pupils, has ruled that schools cannot oblige children took take part in climate demonstration. Although schools can organise school trips to demonstrations such as those organised by Youth for Climate, the Commission says that obliging pupils to take part goes too far. The Commission’s ruling forms the basis of an article that appears in Friday’s editions of the dailies ‘De Standaard’ and ‘Het Nieuwsblad’. 

Earlier this year there was controversy when it emerged that some schools were obliging pupils to take part in climate demonstrations. A number of voiced concerns that their children were being forced to take part in what they saw as “political demonstrations”.  Politicians from the Flemish nationalist party and the Flemish liberal also expressed criticism of schools that were making their pupils protest against climate change.  

The Flemish Education Minister Hilde Crevits (Christian democrat) sought the advice of the Careful Management Commission on the issue.   

In its report the Commission says that the climate marches are not political activities as they are not organised by political parties. It has no issues with schools organising school trips to the marches providing that they have some relevance to the curriculum.     

However, "Given the ongoing debate about the climate marches, the commission doesn’t consider it appropriate that schools oblige pupils to take part. A proper alternative should be provided”, the Commission writes.