Starting from 2022, the summer holidays for pupils going to Francophone schools in Belgium will be shortened, a change that will not be implemented in Flanders anytime soon.
On Wednesday, the French Community (which is made up of Wallonia and Francophone Brussels) agreed on a reform of school holidays from 2022: the summer holidays will be shortened, and both the autumn and carnival holidays will be extended to two weeks.
In practice, pupils in the French-speaking education system will start the next school year on Monday 29 August 2022 (a week earlier than the usual first Monday of September), and end it on Friday 7 July 2023 (a week later than the normal last week of June).
To compensate, however, a week is added to both the autumn and carnival holidays. Nothing changes for the Christmas and Easter holidays, which will both still last two weeks.
According to several experts, including OECD education expert Dirk Van Damme, the link with school and education is cut off too long during such a long summer holiday, while the short one-week holidays afterwards are too short for children to properly catch their breath.
In a reaction, Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts told VRT that while Flanders is open to the debate, "this debate should not be held in the middle of this coronavirus crisis, which is already asking a lot from the field of education."
"If you hold this debate, it must be conducted properly and thoroughly, and with all parties concerned, because this is not just a matter for the world of education," he added.
"Virtually the whole of society is organised in function of the current school holidays. If we start moving the calendar, it will also have consequences for parents and many sectors," Weyts said.