Schools in the north of Belgium can make ‘marches for the climate’ an official school outing, but they do not have the right to make their students take part in them, according to a decision made by the Flemish education department revealed by De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad on Friday.
The decision of some schools to make participation in world marches for the climate compulsory caused a stir in Flanders in mid-March. Some parents found such outings to be too politically motivated. The N-VA and Open-Vld were up in arms. The minister for education Hilde Crevits (CD&V) had then ordered one of her department’s committees to decide the issue.
Its view was clear: marches for the climate did not constitute political activity, because they were not organised by political parties. Consequently, making them a school outing was not a problem, provided that they were part of a course. But schools could not make participation in such demonstrations compulsory. There should be an alternative for students not wishing to go on them.