Experts argue for two-week school holiday every 7 weeks
Tuesday, 01 September 2020
A number of experts are advocating for a reform of school holidays in an open letter published by Le Soir.
The proposal is to have two weeks of school holidays after seven weeks of lessons. The Christmas holidays would be retained, but All Saints or Easter fall outside of a holiday period under the proposed plan.
The proposal to reform the school holidays was drawn up two years ago by the King Baudouin Foundation – an organisation for “change and innovation, serving the public interest and increasing social cohesion in Belgium and Europe” – and the Ligue des familles, the French-speaking Family Union.
In the open letter, the Ligue des familles, the federation of parents’ associations in free education and the education federations ask that French-speaking Education Minister Caroline Désir tackle the reform of the school year “with voluntarism and in consultation with all actors in education.”
“Confinement has underlined the need to change pace,” the letter said, highlighting that “as early as 1991, the School Rhythms Committee issued a report noting that the current school rhythms were not adapted to the biological rhythm of the child and to the parents’ rhythm of life and therefore proposed to modify them.”
Désir declared her willingness to reform school holoidays today on both the RTBF and the Bel-RTL.
For Désir, the pace of seven weeks of lessons and two weeks’ holiday is “ideal,” but because of the corona crisis, which thoroughly disrupted the end of last school year, “we have not had time to work on this in recent weeks.”
She did promise that the option would be put back on the table. “I want to carry out the reform this legislature,” she said, while pointing out that many key players had yet to be consulted. “We must also give actors other than schools, such as tourism or youth organisations, a little time to adapt,” she said.
Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts reacted negatively to the proposal. “Surely we now face other challenges. The quality of education, the shortage of teachers, new school buildings. Those are my priorities,” he said.
“The debate about teaching time and school holidays extends beyond schools in any case, because by shifting these holidays, you intervene in the lives of all parents, in the whole of society and in the economy.”