Dutch and STEM: Flanders sets new learning goals for schools

Dutch and STEM: Flanders sets new learning goals for schools
Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

On Monday morning, Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts announced the new attainment targets for Dutch-speaking schools – called "minimum goals" from now on – for pupils from the third to sixth years of secondary school (ages 14 to 18) after Belgium's Constitutional Court dropped them before the summer.

Flanders' previous attainment targets (the minimum goals pupils have to achieve in every subject at the end of the school year) were dropped in June 2022 as the Constitutional Court ruled that they violated the fundamental right to freedom of education.

"We remain ambitious for a higher standard of education and we dare to make choices," Weyts said. "The priorities are Dutch, languages and maths-sciences. These are the foundation of all the other subjects."

The new goals start from the existing final attainment levels and will focus on the three "most crucial" ones: Dutch, languages and the so-called STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

'Minimum targets'

Schools will be encouraged to go far beyond the minimum targets: "We emphasise that schools are allowed to go much further than the government demands. There is still plenty of room for a school to have their own pedagogical project."

Catholic Education Flanders (one of the associations that took issue with the previous attainment levels) welcomed the new approach in a press release: "Educational quality has nothing to do with the quantity of attainment targets, it is about how deep you go into subjects... For that, you need sufficient teaching time: only then can you support pupils who struggle and help those who can do more to excel."

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In the coming weeks and months, a committee of Flemish education organisations will submit a concrete proposal of reduced and simplified minimum targets to the development committees (which include scientific experts, teachers and representatives of the education umbrella associations).

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