‘Completely outdated’: Flanders considers shortening summer holidays
Share article:
Share article:

‘Completely outdated’: Flanders considers shortening summer holidays

Credit: Belga

After the French community in Belgium announced earlier this year that it would shorten the summer holidays from 2022, Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts is also looking into the possibility.

The coronavirus pandemic put the debate about a shortened summer holiday back on top of the agenda, and Weyts has now asked the Flemish Education Council (Vlor) and the social partners for advice, which is expected in June.

In principle, Dutch-speaking and French-speaking schools will start at different times from September 2022, as the French Community (which is made up of Wallonia and Francophone Brussels) will already start the next school year on Monday 29 August – a week earlier than the usual first Monday of September.

In concrete terms, the summer holidays would be shortened from nine to six to seven weeks in a redesigned calendar. In exchange, the autumn and spring holidays would be extended to two weeks.

This means that while the total teaching time would not change, the summer break would become a little shorter, which is exactly what education experts are so keen on.

“It is scientifically proven that long summer holidays are detrimental to children on an educational level,” sociologist Dirk Jacobs (ULB Brussels) told De Morgen.

Related News:


“The phenomenon of summer ‘learning loss’ occurs in all children, but all the more so in children from lower socio-economic classes who receive little stimulation at home,” he added. “As a result, their learning loss is greater in September.”

While most middle-class children are stimulated at home and do things like go to summer camps, pick up a language abroad, visit a museum with their parents or read a book, some children do not speak Dutch for two months, says sociologist Ignace Glorieux (VUB), who has been researching the subject for 25 years.

“Because the learning process comes to a complete standstill, teachers need up to a month after each summer holiday to get back to the language level before the holiday,” he told the newspaper, stressing that this is “obviously detrimental to the child’s development.”

“The summer holiday, as we know it today, is actually an anachronism that dates back to the agricultural society and is completely outdated today,” Glorieux said.

Shorter summer holidays and a more logical division of the school year could have “a major impact” and help to reduce the inequality between lower and higher social classes, he believes.

An adjustment of the summer holidays would not just have a major social impact on schools, however, it would impact all sectors in society: from employers to childcare, mobility and tourism; they will all have to adapt to a reshuffled rhythm.

Glorieux recognises that the impact of such a reshuffled system will be major, “it is an effort that simply must be made.”

“Of course we have to take into account the practical consequences for teachers and principals as well as for society at large. But if one thing should come first in education, it is surely the interest of the child and the pedagogical project?”

Latest news

Belgium in Brief: Rules For A Fourth Wave
It's the news that nobody wants to hear, but here we go again. Belgium’s council of ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss ...
Belgian grandparents to walk across Scotland for COP26
A group of Belgian grandparents has set off on a 100 km hike that will take them from Belgium to the Scottish city of Glasgow, just ahead of the ...
Gare Maritime: Brussels’ most exciting new architectural project
A generation ago, the Gare Maritime in the Tour & Taxis industrial site was an abandoned wasteland. It is now a model for urban renewal and ...
Rise in fuel prices will bring Belgian State €547 million in tax, say Workers Party
The sharp rise in fuel prices that have been felt across the continent will bring an additional €547 million to the Belgian State, the Workers' Party ...
Amid backlash, Brussels police chief promises to do better for sexual assault victims
After multiple rallies against sexual violence took place in Brussels last week, with victims offering testimony of poor treatment from police when ...
Hire bikes and scooters: Brussels Parliament wants to restore order
Majority parties in the Brussels Parliament plan to enact new rules allowing communes to set specific and mandatory parking spaces for hire bikes and ...
‘Fourth wave’ has begun: These are the rules
The expected fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic has begun, according to Belgium’s Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit). Belgium’s ...
Coronavirus: Ending the pandemic is ‘a choice,’ says WHO chief
The Covid-19 pandemic will end “when the world chooses to end it” because “all the tools” are now available to fight the virus, the World Health ...
‘Can’t keep count’: Instagram page for sexual assault testimonies overwhelmed
An Instagram account compiling testimonies in an effort to give a voice to victims of sexual violence in bars and nightclubs has been overwhelmed ...
Increase in number of people ‘asking King for mercy’ through royal pardons
More and more people living in Belgium have been seeking royal pardons, mainly for fines, largely as a result of it now being possible to send in ...
England now accepting cheaper Covid tests from fully vaccinated travellers
Fully vaccinated travellers who enter England from non-red countries will only be required to book a lateral flow test to take following their ...
Re-introducing face masks indoors considered as Covid-19 situation worsens
Belgium's council of ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the worsening epidemiological situation, and reintroducing face ...