The Dutch-language school that opened in the Brussels municipality of Berchem-Sainte-Agathe in 2018 will be closed due to a lack of budget, according to the municipality council.
The primary school was opened to provide more places offering Dutch-speaking education in the largely French-speaking capital city, even though the former municipality council received a lot of opposition for the initiative.
In four container classes on the site of a kindergarten school, 36 pupils are currently taught in the first and second year of primary education. Over time, the four temporary containers were supposed to be replaced by a new school building.
However, the current municipality council said that it cannot find any land to put the building for the new school. “We have tried to buy a piece of land ourselves, but we concluded that the money is just not there,” said Joël Riguelle, the mayor of Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, reports Bruzz.
This means that the children of the small primary school will have to spend the rest of their school careers in the container classes. Additionally, as Belgian pupils have to follow six years of primary education, only one extra first year can start, as the school will have to permanently close its doors in June 2027.
“We have been working on opening a new Dutch-language school for years. Both Peter Decabooter (a former Alderman) and I have left the council of Aldermen due to the opposition to this initiative,” said Vincent Riga, former Alderman in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, reports Bruzz.
However, the municipality did everything it could to keep the school open, according to the mayor. “We are just running out of money. We are investing in the Dutch-speaking crèches and we are looking for solutions for the Dutch-speaking Music Academy, which is losing classrooms in the municipalities of Asse and Dilbeek. Additionally, classes are being added to the other Dutch-speaking networks in the municipality,” Riguelle added.
“A piece of land has been bought for a future French-speaking secondary school recently, even though there are no concrete plans for the school yet. Yet, they do not invest money in a dossier that has been dragging on for so long,” said Maude van Gyseghem, the former Flemish Alderman, reports Bruzz.
The Brussels Times