Zuhal Demir, federal secretary of state for equal opportunities, has criticised the practice of teachers paid by the Turkish government giving Turkish-language lessons in schools in Ghent. The lessons take place after school hours, so do not form part of the official curriculum established by the Flemish government. Flemish minister for education Hilde Crevits has also expressed misgivings.
Demir (photo) is herself of Kurdish-Turkish origins, but described the lessons as “subsidised anti-integration”.
Brussels region and Wallonia have an agreement which allows Turkish teachers paid by Ankara to live and work for five years. Flanders had a similar agreement until two years ago, when it was revealed that the teachers in question spoke no Dutch, a matter which Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois said was in breach of his government’s integration policy.
“How naive and ignorant can you get?” Demir said. “What Ghent is doing here is subsidised anti-integration. Is there really anyone who believes that the Turkish government is concerned with the better integration of Turks in Flanders? President Erdogan hates the idea, which is why this system of lessons exists.”
But parents see it differently. “Our children are so well integrated that they are barely able to speak Turkish any more,” a group of concerned parents said in a statement. “We want to give them the chance to communicate with their Turkish families, here or in Turkey. A grandmother and her grandchild who can’t speak to each other, that’s heart-breaking, surely?”