Radio 2

Education ambassadors explain the opportunities of Flemish education to newcomers

In Kortrijk (West Flanders) people of foreign heritage are being trained to help non-Dutch speaking migrants to steer through the local education system.  So called ‘education ambassadors’ are themselves of foreign heritage and have often experienced what it is like coming to live in Flanders and being confronted with a new education system.  They can now pass on their know-how to others.

All education ambassadors will set to work with six months of special training provided by the Federation for Mondial and Democratic Organisations, the FMDO, a partner of West Flanders Province and the City of Kortrijk..

Sher Gunawan, originally from Indonesia, is convinced the initiative will bear fruit.  Together with her mother she arrived in Belgium at the age of 13.  “As a newcomer and young person I immediately had to choose which classes I would take at secondary school.  It was pretty tough.  That experience has motivated me to help others.”

Fatima Boudrar from Harelbeke is of Berber heritage: “I’m a social interpreter and I understand how important it is to provide information to non-Dutch speaking migrants and newcomers in their own language.  Their education systems often differ widely from ours and the many opportunities on offer here.”

Both newcomers have just received their diploma from the mayor.

“One in five Kortrijkians has an experience of migration.  They hail from 130 countries” says Mayor Ruth Vandenberghe.  “By following the right type of education, they will more easily find their place in our society.”

The ambassadors have the boardgame ‘Parents Without Borders’ at their disposal.  It touches on various educational themes that are important in Kortrijk.  You can play the game in 13 different languages. Unfortunately, at the moment ambassadors have to work via online cafés due to the pandemic.

Kortrijk is the third town in West Flanders after Ostend and Bruges to deploy education ambassadors.    

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