Education reforms in Wallonia-Brussels

Marie-Martine Schyns, the minister for education in Wallonia-Brussels Federation, unveiled the ‘Pacte d’excellence’ she aims to set up over the upcoming years.

Marie Martine Schyns

The government has been working on this plan since 2015. The aim is clear: “reinforcing the quality of teaching for all the pupils”; consultations and exchanges were conducted last year for such a purpose. After varieties of reforms have been considered, the chosen option for the primary and secondary schools have been presented last week to the government.

The main point is about updating the schedules, and to make them similar in most of the schools. Mrs Schyn wants an “ambitious common basis”, to make them more adapted to the current realities.

Some proposed changes were reported in Le Soir. In primary schools, the pupils will now be taught a modern language as of the third grade; today learning a foreign language starts two years later. A special focus has also been put on sport. In the 5th and 6th year of primary school, the pupils will take three hours of sport (two hours today). Mrs Schyn aims to link sports classes with teachings on health and alimentation.

Secondary schools will also be subject to some updates, extending teaching time to 34 hours per week. To make school as effective as possible for the individuals, the pupils will take 2 hours of compulsory personal support per week. And the Wallonian-Brusselian schools will also have to deliver 2 hours of ancient language per week in the 2nd year of secondary school. 2 hours of cultural and artistic classes will also be introduced.
A debate had been raised with regard to human science in the secondary school.

It was indeed uncertain how history, geography, economic and social science would have been taught in the future. The schools will enjoy a certain freedom to schedule those classes as they see fit over the coming three years.

The reform will not apply as of the next school year. It aims to enter into force in 2020 in the primary schools, and in 2024 in the secondary schools. It is now up to the Council of ministers and the Parliament to endorse such reforms.