'Maximum 4 hours of school work per day,' says Education Minister

'Maximum 4 hours of school work per day,' says Education Minister
Credit: Belga

Pupils should only spend a maximum of four hours per day doing school work during the measures to prevent the further spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), according to Flemish Minister for Education Ben Weyts.

Since there is a good chance that the schools will not reopen like normal after the Easter holidays, Weyts has drawn up new guidelines, in cooperation with a group of pedagogues. If the lockdown measures will be extended for another two weeks beyond 19 April, schools are allowed to teach new subject matter through distance learning. "These should not become lost learning weeks," said Weyts to VRT.

In practice, children should spend a maximum of four hours a day on their school tasks, which is half the time spent learning during an ordinary school day. "Online independent learning is more intensive than being taught in class," said Weyts to Het Nieuwsblad. "Therefore, we are drawing clear boundaries. I hope that the schools will all deal with this in a somewhat uniform way," he added.

The guidelines also state that the involvement of the parents should be limited to two hours per week. The measure was implemented following a lot of criticism from parents working from home, because they had to combine their regular job with supporting their children with their school work.

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"Some parents sit next to their child for many hours with the very best intentions, but pedagogues warn that this can have the wrong effect," said Weyts. "Children must be given the trust to work independently. Otherwise, they may become dependent on their mother or father, and will not be ready to go back to school," he added.

"It is good that the expectations of the government are somewhat clearer," said Pieter-Jan Crombez, spokesperson for Catholic Education Flanders to De Standaard. "We want to create as clear a framework as possible for the schools, in which they can prepare education from a distance," he added.

Earlier, Weyts announced that "pre-teaching" will be chosen during the Easter break, in which the subject matter will be offered to the pupils a first time via distance learning, and a second time when schools will be resumed.

"This is a necessary step, because I am concerned about the quality of education. This period should not become lost learning weeks," said Weyts. "I am also worried that students will stop following if they are only taught old stuff after the Easter holidays. Through this 'pre-teaching', we are already preparing for the reopening of the schools," he added.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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