“Laptop for every child from the 5th year”

Flemish education minister Ben Weyts (nationalist) has promised that schools will provide every pupil with a laptop from the 5th year of primary. The laptop is intended to do schoolwork.

A recent investigation by VRT News discovered that education in Flanders is well behind its peers abroad when it comes to digitalisation. Half of all school buildings have been standing for over half a century.  The buildings provide poor to no wife access. Many teachers and children have to make do without a laptop. The absence of laptops proved a big problem during the first lockdown that started in March.  Remote learning proved difficult to organise.  Many vulnerable pupils now face a tremendous backlog in their learning.

At present primary schools have 70 eurocents per pupil at their disposal to spend on ICT.  In secondary this rises to under one euro per pupil.  The funds are often insufficient to maintain existing systems.

The Flemish government has now adopted a new policy document drawn up by education minister Weyts: “The 5th year of primary becomes a milestone in every child’s life.  He or she will receive a laptop of their own. The laptops will remain the property of the schools.”

Teachers will be treated to extra ICT training.  The ICT budget in Flemish education rises from 32 million euros in 2019 to 375 million euros by 2023.

Mr Weyts (below) is keen to stress that the laptops don’t herald a continuation of remote learning after the corona crisis: “The best schooling still happens in class with a driven teacher” he says.  

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