After a school year full of gender and (inter)national exchange, the gender challenges in education have few secrets left for us. With the necessary tools, we can prepare the new generation of teachers to ban gender stereotypes from the classroom. It is time now to clear the road and expose another challenge in our education system. With drum roll, we are announcing the theme for the 2019-2020 academic year, where we delve into multilingualism in education together.

Multilingualism is a current challenge in Dutch-language education in Belgium. More and more children in Belgium speak a different language at home than at school. In addition, they often hear Dutch for the first time in early childhood education, while knowledge of the school language in Belgium is still the key to educational success. Many Belgian teachers are not armed against the challenges that foreign-language students present, which makes it difficult for them to reach their full learning potential.

Foreign-language pupils at school

In Belgium, foreign-language pupils are often only allowed to speak Dutch within the school walls and on the playground. Under the guise 'we are here to learn Dutch', they are often punished when they speak a different language, which is detrimental to their well-being and the relationship with their teacher. In addition, multilingual children do not always understand what the teacher expects of them or they cannot express themselves in the same way in the school language as in their mother tongue, which means they perform less well than their Dutch-speaking classmates and fall behind in learning.

In other words, speaking a different language at home than at school is more of an obstacle than an asset in our education system. A challenge that is also food for thought in our partner countries Vietnam and South Africa. That is why VVOB with its programmes strives for inclusive education where foreign-language students feel at home and get the same learning opportunities.

Multilingualism, our activities at a glance

In the 2019-2020 school year, eNSPIRED inspires how to prepare student teachers for a multilingual classroom context and to embrace pupils with a different home language and culture in the classroom. Together with the Centre for Diversity & Learning and other partner organisations in Belgium and abroad, we are currently working on an inspiring programme. Get your diary and highlighter, because here we already lift a tip of the veil.
On November 13, 2019 we will open the doors of De Krook in Ghent where (inter)national experts will explain the theme during the annual eNSPIRED guest lecture.
On February 19, 2020 eNSPIRED will be a guest at Artevelde University of Applied Sciences with an inspiring language carrousel for students and teachers. During that period, the college organises various activities in the context of International Mother Language Day (February 21) that highlight and celebrate the 88 home languages and cultures of its students and teachers.
To meanwhile old custom, you are welcome again in the spring for an international exchange during the eNSPIRED learning week. This year we bring expertise from South Africa and Vietnam to Belgium to start a dialogue on the challenges of multilingualism and education in Belgiumand beyond. 

More info about these activities, the programmes and speakers will follow in September. Would you like to stay informed about our activities? Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.