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PART II:  Analytic Section:

6. Progress towards goals and targets

In the process of gathering the data for the country report, the persons responsible encountered many obstacles that included:

  1. Incorrect completion of standard forms by some schools;
  2. Non-completion of the standard forms from some schools;
  3. The island departments of education collected data in a systematic manner but were filed poorly making it difficult to obtain the relevant data;
  4. Loss of 4 years of data in Curaçao from the Island Department of Education.
  5. Damage and loss of some of the files from the Federal and Island Departments of Education in the Windward Islands, especially Sint Maarten as a result of the hurricanes of 1995.
  6. Loss of copies of the standard forms at school level.
  7. Time constraints.

This shows the need for an automated system of gathering, processing and distributing the educational data in the Netherlands Antilles

As a five-island nation it has been difficult to provide data on a national level. Not all the time it has been possible to get data from all the islands. Especially Sint Maarten has not been able to supply all the data needed for this report, which is also reflected in the tables. Considering that St. Maarten is the 2nd largest island of the Netherlands Antilles with regard to population it is not possible to present national data.

When looking at the data it has to be kept in mind that on the one hand real figures are used for student population. The differences seen from year to year may be due to the fact that sometimes not all schools submit the standardized forms. On the other hand population figures used is a combination of information of the registrar office of the various islands and approximations made by the Central Bureau of Statistics. For that reason the gross ratios tend to be more than a 100.

Early Child Care and Development

Target: Expansion of early childhood care and development activities, including family and community interventions, especially for poor disadvantaged and disabled children.

The government does not control Preschool education 0 – 3 years such as day care centers and nurseries. It is privately operated and there is not yet any legislation in place for this type of Education.

Kindergarten education 4-5 years however is legalized and therefore is being staffed with qualified teachers. The Dutch system distinguishes two different teacher certificates:

  1. The regular kindergarten teacher’s certificate
  2. The principal’s certificate for Kindergarten school.

To obtain the headmistress certificate an extra year of study is necessary.

There are 80 kindergarten schools in the Netherlands Antilles with a total student enrolment of approximately 7908 in the 1998/1999 school year.

Indicator 1

Gross enrolment in early childhood development programs including public, private and community programs, expressed as a percentage of the official age group concerned. If any, otherwise the age groups 3 to 5.

In the Netherlands Antilles, Early Childhood Education is provided for children in the age group 4-5 years old in K1 and K2 of kindergarten schools.

Table 1 presents the data for the 9-year period 1989/1990

The table shows that for basically all the years the gross enrolment rate was beyond the 100 %. This indicates that the Netherlands Antilles was in principle able to accommodate all children in the official age group concerned by ECCD. The data indicates that the highest ECCD gross enrolment rate recorded was 117.2 percent in 1992/97 with the rate for boys being 123.89 percent, more than 13 percent higher than the girls. The boys continued to account for the higher proportion of the enrolment up to 1993/94. From 1994/95 on there is a change and the girls account for the higher proportion of the enrolment. A look at the figures on the national level shows us that only in 1992/93 there is a gender parity index in favor of the males, while in the other years is equal for boys and girls. The individual islands however do show gender differences.

Indicator 2

Percentage of the new entrants to primary grade 1 who have attended some form of organized early childhood development program.

As table 2 (Appendix) shows, all the new entrants to primary school have attended kindergarten education and have participated in organized learning activities prior to

Table 1.

Gross Enrolment Rates of Early Childhood Education Programs By Gender 1989/1990 to 1998/1999

Years

Total

Male

Female

1989/90

101.2

101.8

100.6

1990/91

105.8

106.2

105.4

1991/92

103.3

104.9

101.6

1992/93

117.2

123.9

110.3

1993/94

100.2

102.5

97.9

1994/95

97.7

97

98.4

1995/96

100.5

98.3

102.7

1995/97

105.2

104.6

105.9

1997/98

104.1

103.3

105

1998/99

102.5

101.1

103.9

entering primary school. Depending on when they make birth date they may attend kindergarten 1 to 2 years. Kindergarten education is part of the formal educational system of the Netherlands Antilles and covers ages 4 and 5.

Preschool education 0-3 is non-formal, but the government is in the process of preparing laws to regulate preschool education.

Primary Education

Target: Universal access to, and completion of, primary/basic education by the year 2000.

There are 87 primary schools in the Netherlands Antilles with a student population of 24031 students for the 1998/1999 school year.

Basic education in the Netherlands Antilles includes the first two years of secondary education. Because of time constraints to collect and process the data on the first two years of secondary education, that information is not included is this report.

Indicator 3

Apparent (gross) intake rate: new entrants in primary grade 1 as a percentage of the population of official entry age.

For lack of data of the island from St. Maarten and also for some of the years from Curaçao it is not possible to present data on the national level. Furthermore some of the islands have a very small population. Looking at the various islands though, one can note that for most of the years, Bonaire and St. Eustatius had a Gross Enrollment Rate of beyond the 100 percent while Saba and Curaçao tended to be below the 100 percent. The available data indicate a consistent acceptance of over-aged/under-aged pupils in grade 1 (See table 2). This indicates that there is access to primary education. The many differences from year to year in the gross intake rate might be due to migration between the islands and also to foreign countries.

Table 2

Gross Intake Rates Primary Education

Year

Bonaire

Curaçao

Saba

St. Eustatius

St. Maarten

1990/91

112.6

93.6

66.7

91.9

1991/92

114.3

102.3

87.5

202.7

1992/93

134.2

100.0

120.0

120.8

1993/94

109.6

102.2

100.0

112.5

1994/95

103.3

94.4

100.0

1995/96

102.3

94.4

107.1

1996/97

111.2

113.6

127.8

1997/98

133.9

100.0

102.3

1998/99

122.1

98.9

46.7

77.3

Average

116.0

83.0

91.0

116.0

Indicator 4

Net intake rate: new entrants to primary grade 1 who are of the official primary school-entrance age as a percentage of the corresponding population.

The Net Intake Rate (Table 3) shows rates for the most part around the 75 percent on the various islands. It should be mentioned here that the data is based on information in the month of September. In order for students to be registered they must be 6 by October 1. All students with birth-dates between October 1st and December 31st, but have not yet been registered, also form part of the six year old student population. Therefore the net enrollment ratio tend to be low. However, considering that all students attend Kindergarten education, one can safely assume that students do enter primary education at primary entrance age except those who have a birthday after October 1st and children of immigrants who enter the educational system at an older age.

Indicator 5

Gross enrolment ratio. (GER)

The data shows (Table 4) that the trend of under-aged and over-aged enrolment observed in Grade 1 has continued through the entire range of grades at the elementary level except for Saba in 1993/94 and for Saba and Curaçao in 1998/99. St. Maarten’s consistently lower GER’s might be due to the fact that children from legal immigrants tend to migrate back and forth to their home country and might not be registered in any subsidized recognized school. Another reason might be the non-subsidized private schools of which there is no data available on their registrtaion. The data indicates a high degree of participation and shows that the Netherlands Antilles is, in principle, able to accommodate all of its primary school-age population.

Table 3

Net Intake Rates Primary Education

Year

Bonaire

Curaçao

Saba

St. Eustatius

St. Maarten

1990/91

89.6

61.9

66.7

56.8

1991/92

86.2

70.3

83.3

148.6

1992/93

98.4

69.4

93.3

77.1

1993/94

83.3

67.2

70.6

104.2

1994/95

78.6

66.7

70.7

1995/96

74.4

66.7

42.9

1996/97

76.8

68.2

72.2

1997/98

108.1

81.6

72.7

1998/99

89.9

66.8

33.3

45.5

Average

87

67

70

76

Table 4

Gross Enrolment Rates Primary Education

Year

Bonaire

Curaçao

Saba

St. Eustatius

St. Maarten

Netherlands Antilles

1989/90

119.1

110.2

122.4

117.1

1990/91

119.4

107.4

106

109

1991/92

116.3

115.5

102.9

124.7

1992/93

118.2

111.4

119.4

124.3

96.4

109.7

1993/94

113.7

108.8

96

124.8

98.7

107.7

1994/95

109.7

121.7

111.9

109.3

90.3

115.6

1995/96

105.9

121.8

115.7

114.7

101.1

117.1

1996/97

103.7

121.2

106.8

115.4

93.4

115

1997/98

104.5

119.6

100.7

105.2

90.3

111.4

1998/99

86.7

117.6

98

101.9

89.3

109.6

Average

110

116

108

115

94

112

Indicator 6

Net Enrolment Ratio (NER)

The Net Enrolment Rates (NER) (Table 5) in excess of 100 percent suggest that the population data used is lower than the actual population data. This is the case since the population data is not real figures but rather approximations. The mean of the NER’s over the period 1989/90 to 1998/99 is consistently lower than the mean of the GER’s, except for the case of Saba. The short-term stay of medical students and their families in Saba might be a possible explanation for the unusual low NER in 1993/94.

Table 5

Net Enrolment Rates Primary Education

Year

Bonaire

Curaçao

Saba

St. Eustatius

St. Maarten

1989/90

108.2

104

111.2

114.1

1990/91

112.3

101.6

104.0

107.2

1991/92

110.0

110.0

102.9

123.8

1992/93

111.3

105.6

108.2

123.5

1993/94

107.7

103.8

78.0

122.8

1994/95

103.6

109.9

106.6

1995/96

100.0

113.7

106.2

1996/97

103.7

121.2

106.8

115.4

1997/98

104.5

119.6

100.7

105.2

1998/99

86.7

117.6

98.0

101.9

Average

105

110

103

113

Indicator 7

Public current expenditure on basic education (a) as a percentage of GNP and (b) per pupil, as a percentage of GNP per capita.

Indicator 8

Public expenditure on basic education as a percentage of total public expenditure on education.

Public current expenditures include the costs involved in giving education, the so-called direct expenditures, and also administration, research, and departments costs. Analysis of the data reveals that the public current expenditure on primary education has increased in the last 8 years with more than 54% with 1995 having a high peak. Public current expenditure on primary education as a percentage of total public current expenditure on education has seen a decline from 4.8 in 1994 to 4.3 percent in 1998. Public current expenditure on primary education as a percentage of GNP has seen an increase from 1.5 percent in 1990 to 1.9 in 1995. The percentage of Public current expenditure as an expenditure on primary education per pupil as % of GNP per capita has also seen an increase from 14.9 in 1990 to 16.4 in 1995. (See table 5 in the appendix.)

Indicator 9

Percentage of primary school teachers having the required academic qualifications.

Indicator 10

Percentage of primary school teachers who are certified to teach according to national standards.

In the Netherlands Antilles teachers go to the teachers training college after finishing their secondary education. This college offers a four-year training, which is completed with a Diploma. This Diploma gives them the qualification and the certification to teach. Foreign teachers are employed after the Ministry of Education has evaluated and recognized their Diplomas. No one can teach in the public or private subsidized schools unless they have the qualifications and are certified to teach.

Indicator 11

Pupil/teacher ratio

For the period 1989/90 to 1989/99 the pupil teachers ratio has fluctuated from 15 to 21 depending on the island and year. Even in the islands, especially the three largest ones Curaçao, Bonaire and St. Maarten, there are differences among schools and geographical areas, where you will still find large classes in one area and small classes in one area. The smaller school boards also tend to have school (s) with smaller classes in comparison with the larger Schoolboards.

Indicator 12

Repetition rates by Grade

The information on repetition rates is presented in the Appendix. The rates vary between the islands. Table 6 shows that Curaçao has the highest repetition rates while Bonaire have the lowest rates.

Table 6

Repetition Rates in Primary Education

Year

Bonaire

Curaçao

Saba

St. Eustatius

St. Maarten

1990/91

5.1

16.6

2.2

1991/92

8.3

17

0.0

7.2

1992/93

5.7

16

3.4

15.8

1993/94

2.2

15.8

0.0

8.7

1994/95

2.4

22.5

3.4

1995/96

3.2

0.0

8.5

1996/97

3.7

3.0

9.2

1997/98

2.4

8.0

12.2

1998/99

0

6.2

3.3

14.2

Average

4.13

16.35

5.03

8.54

Indicator 13

Survival rate to grade 5 (percentage of a pupil cohort actually reaching grade 5) Data not processed.

Indicator 14

Coefficient of efficiency (ideal number of people years needed for a pupil cohort to complete the primary cycle, expressed as a percentage of the actual number of people years). Data not processed.

Learning Achievement and Outcomes

Indicator 15

Percentage of pupils having reached at least grade 4 of primary schooling who master a set of nationally defined basic learning competencies.

Each island has its own system of assigning its sixth-grade students to secondary education.

In Curaçao there is a predetermined percentage of sixth-grade students that are assigned to the various types of secondary education. The top 15 % goes to HAVO (General Secondary Education), the next 28 % goes to MAVO (Junior Secondary Education), the next 50 % goes to BVO (Lower Vocational Education) and the rest repeat the sixth-grade if they are too young, otherwise they go to special needs vocational education. The decision is based on the results of the national achievement test (Dutch and Arithmetic), the advice of the school principal, and the age of the student.

In Bonaire since the introduction of Basic Secondary Education, the students are assigned to the various types of secondary education based on their school career, their performance in the sixth-grade and the advice of the principal. They are monitored and evaluated during the school year and if necessary they will be reassigned.

In St. Maarten there is a norm set for admittance to each of the various types of secondary schools. The students have to sit for an achievement test that covers Dutch, Mathematics, and English. There are also rules for the ratio of the scores between the subjects. The advice of the principal will be requested for special cases. The percentile score, the age and the repeating pattern will also be taken into consideration for the final decision. The students in the 0-15 percentile go to HAVO, those in the 16-55 percentile go to MAVO, those in the 56 –95 percentile go to BVO or BVO-P and the rest goes to Special Needs Vocational Education. In addition the secondary schools that use English as the language of instruction also have their own requirements.

In St. Eustatius the same procedure is followed as in St. Maarten.

In Saba there is a special committee consisting of representatives of the School board, the school principal, the inspectorate and the special education teacher. This committee evaluates the students based on their school career, their pattern of repeating and their performance in the sixth grade.

In 1998 91.6 % of the students in the sixth-grade in the Netherlands Antilles mastered basic learning competencies in Dutch and Arithmetic for the islands of Curaçao and Bonaire and also English for the islands of St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba.

Indicator 16

Literacy rate of 15-24 years old

Adult Literacy

Indicator 17

Adult literacy rate: percentage of the population aged 15+ that is literate

Indicator 18

Literacy Gender Parity Index: ratio of female to male literacy rates.

There is not much statistical information on illiteracy or literacy in the Netherlands Antilles. The only information available is based on the last census held in 1992. Considering that literacy is difficult to measure, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) uses the amount of completed years of elementary education to measure literacy. CBS defines functional illiteracy as the number of persons 15 years and older who have attended and completed a maximum of 3 years of elementary school.

As such literacy can be defined as the amount of persons who have completed more than 3 years of elementary school.

In 1992 there were 140238 persons attending and non-attending school living in the Netherlands Antilles of 15 years and older. Of those 134063 were literate. The literacy rate than is 95.6.

According to table 11 (See Appendix) the literacy gender parity index shows a value equal to 1 for the Netherlands Antilles. Therefore female literacy and male literacy rates are equal.

7 Effectiveness of the EFA strategy, plan and programs

The balances are drawn per target dimension in the following section. The final section will consist of a separate paragraph that will deal with three subjects, namely, the language problem, drop-outs, and the migration problem of the windward islands, that are important to the proposed EFA goals.

7.1 Expansion of early childhood care and developmental activities

Considering the circumstances under which must be worked, one can assume that the most important results achieved in this area are:

  1. Implementation of recognized education on LBO and MBO level for daycare center leaders on all five islands of the Netherlands Antilles.
  2. Minimum requirements for daycare centers with island regulation for the island of Curaçao.
  3. Increased care quality and parent participation on all five islands of the Netherlands Antilles.

The goals are set based on the available possibilities and means. These goals have been reached with great devotion of the limited personnel and financial means. Cheap labor and an efficient network constructed during the course of time were used. Fortunately, quality was safeguarded. An additional problem is the fact that ‘early childhood care’ is still not an integral part of governmental policy.

7.2 "Universal access to, and completion of primary education by the year 2000’ and ‘Improvement in learning achievement’

The goal oriented strategies, plans, and programs, have been successfully achieved qua planning. This means that the plans were realistic. A protocol was signed with the island of Curaçao wherein the responsibilities and the job description of both central and island governments are established. A coordinator will be appointed on national level. He will be in charge of implementing and coordinating the preparation activities. Foundation Based Education must be operational in the year 2001.

Bonaire is working on providing information regarding the first phase of Foundation Based Education. A group will be formed that will help to assess the necessities in the areas of schooling, material, and legal regulations. Implementation of activities has not yet started in the Windward Islands.

Basic Education must be implemented in the first year in all Secondary Education schools of the Netherlands Antilles in the 1998 - 1999 school year. A phased implementation was chosen due to unforeseen circumstances and timing problems. Even though everyone will not agree, one can look back on a reasonably smooth progression of the implementation. Modernization of a part of the Vocational Education was also a success.

As stated in paragraph 2, the Compulsory Education Regulation has not yet been implemented on all the islands. This regulation is functional on all islands with the exception of St. Maarten.

The Compulsory Education Regulation was enforced in 1991. The islands were allowed to postpone implementation of this regulation until school year 1996. This means that August 1, 1996 became the dead line for the enforcement of the Compulsory Education Regulation on all the islands of the Netherlands Antilles.

Only the island of St. Maarten has not yet been able to implement named regulation. Migration problem is identified as the main bottleneck to implementation. St. Maarten has a regular illegal immigration from Santo Domingo, Jamaica, and Haiti. This means a regular inflow of students. For this reason, educational provisions are almost never enough because of the lack of supervision of this development.

The most recent developments show that Compulsory Education Regulation was dealt with by the Executive Council, however from a legal point of view, a few points must be synchronized with the Compulsory Education Regulation.

7.3 Reduction of the adult illiteracy rate, especially the disparity between male and female illiteracy rates and Expansion of basic education and training in other essential skills required by youth and adults.

Generally, it can be assumed that agreed strategy, plan, and major programs were feasible in view of the current conditions. The chosen strategy seemed achievable considering the then possessed information. However, a few aspects have presented themselves in the past decade, which have restricted the progress of these developments. These aspects are for instance the constantly changing governments, the available financial resources, human resources, material, small scale, and adaptability to change. In the case of Adult Education the lack of coordination and allocate is also a bottleneck. These points will be further discussed in § 8.

Considering the above it becomes obvious that less results were achieved than expected.

Nevertheless, efforts have led to the following results:

  1. Legally:
  1. Compulsory Education Regulation P.B. 1991, 85 was implemented in all five of the islands of the Netherlands Antilles. Starting from the international treaty concerning economic, social, and cultural laws on December 19, 1966, compulsory education is applicable to all children in the Netherlands Antilles between the ages of 6 – 15, in order to guarantee minimum education for all children.
  2. Country Regulation Educational Experiments P.B. 1998, 6
  3. Goal: To make a regulation for the development and innovation of education to provide special public education apart from a number of enforced country educational regulations, and will be financed from public funds.

  4. Country Regulation for early childhood care, January 16, 1999.
  1. Educational Innovations

Innovations have been intensified in all levels of education in the framework of global developments and developments in our own community. Some examples are:

  1. Modernization of Vocational Education by implementing the Preparatory Vocational Education (B.V.O.) in 1991.

In 1991 we started a new kind of Vocational Education (B.V.O.) at the preparatory level in order to ensure a better connection with the labor market. We had to far many problems in realizing this innovation. We have achieved some results and are doing our utmost to make them more satisfactory. In the framework of initiating collaboration between the Antillean Minister of Education, Holland, and Aruba it was agreed during the ministers’ conference in May of 1999 to submit the B.V.O to an evaluative research.

b. Implementation of Basic Education during school year 1998–1999.

The implementation of Basic Education in the Antillean situation is an explicit answer to societal, economic, and technological innovations. It is also an opportunity to link education to our specific cultural and social situation and to continue to modernize education.

Goals that Basic Education in Secondary Education wishes to accomplish are:

With Basic Education it’s about general development necessary for the students to function meaningfully as members of a community and must set the basis for their future study and/or vocational education and personal development.

Basic Education means an expansion of the educational offer for all types of Secondary School Education, implementation of new subjects, and a noticeable modification of present subjects. Basic Education must lead to a change in school organization, amendment of the study plan, and revision of the teaching approach.

With the implementation of Basic Education the possibility is created to focus more on one’s own cultural and societal identity and that of the region.

The implementation of education in Secondary Education should be considered as a temporary measure according to the Government of the Netherlands Antilles. More like a provisional solution to meet present lack of good foundation.

The implementation of Basic Education is also focussing on providing interim measures in order to avoid that the present students are disfavored because of the threatening linkage problems due to the situations arising from the implementation of Basic Education in the Netherlands.
Implementation is now awaiting further additional changes that will be realized when Foundation Based Education is implemented. Work is being done for a final integration of all students by the third year of Foundation Based Education.

c. Preparations for implementation of Foundation Based Education

It is a plan for a total restructuring of Primary Education in the Netherlands Antilles and for the introduction of the so-called ‘Foundation Based Education’ in the years to come. The approach of the innovation process is broadly supported and reaches all our schools and educational bodies. The reform proposal has already been discussed with the policy makers and educational partners, and presented to all the teachers on each island. The community has also been informed.

This plan has been reviewed and presented to Parliament for approval. According to our planning, the preparations for implementation will be started soon. In the year 2000 all schools will start at preparatory level with the actual implementation of this educational reform. By the year 2013 Foundation Based Education has to be completely introduced.

In this new educational system the mother tongue of the majority of our population will be used as language of instruction. This means that at the Windward Islands, Saba, St. Maarten, and St. Eustatius the language of instruction will be English, while the Leeward Islands Curaçao and Bonaire will instruct their pupils in Papiamentu.

To guarantee the possibility of our students to continue the higher forms of education abroad, especially the children of the Leeward Islands, much attention will be given to the teaching of foreign languages. English, Dutch, Spanish will be taught in Primary Education. Dutch and English will furthermore be the languages of instruction in secondary schools.

With the introduction of this system, modern teaching methods will be applied to facilitate individualized and group teaching to secure an uninterrupted development for all children throughout their school career.

The introduction of this new system also aims at early passing to secondary school, through the abolition of the school-leaving examination in the sixth grade of the present primary school.

As a consequence of the introduction of Foundation Based Education a teacher training program and extensive staff development of the present personnel will also be part of the implementation.

  1. Human Resources

By strengthening the management structure more attention can be placed on policy development, internal and external communication, and the establishment of an education statistics unit. The Department of Education has been better equipped by providing human resources to the various sectors. The sector of Basis Education was equipped in the same way in 1990. In the proceeding years the departments inspectie a.v.o. and 1bo were also staffed. However, considering the great number of schools and the work load there still seem to be a need for expansion of the number of inspectors for basic education in order to be able to work efficiently.

The Information Sector became a reality. This sector has to form a bridge for information and communication between the Department and Education Actors and the general public.

Various vacancies were filled in the Sector Advise Bureau Research and Planning for Education (A.R.P.O.) This is why the unit Information and Research could have started the research and education statistics activities as support to the education policy. The policy development started progressing making it possible for the various innovations processes and projects also to start.

7.4 Some Specific Subjects

The language problem

The language problem is a very old problem that has its origin in the discrepancy between the mother tongue of the majority of the students (Papiamentu) on the one hand and the educational instruction language (Dutch) on the other hand.

There have always been problems with the introduction of Papiamentu in the educational system. The central government has declared itself in favor of the introduction of the mother tongue in the kindergarten and elementary educational systems. The governments of the island territories of Bonaire and Curaçao have subscribed to this viewpoint and have decided to introduce Papiamentu as a subject (in 1986) for a specified period. In the long term the Papiamentu will be introduced as the language of instruction. The Kolegio Erasmo (Erasmo School) was established in. It is the first and only school that has Papiamentu as the language of instruction. The remaining elementary schools offer Papiamentu as a subject. Kindergarten is fully the Papiamentu language. English is the language of instruction in the windward islands in both kindergarten and the first two years of elementary school. The switch to Dutch occurs in the third school year. The Methodist Agogic Center (MAC) and the Seventh-day Adventist school in St. Maarten and the elementary school in Saba use English as the language of instruction. They are the exceptions.

The language of instruction plays a crucial role in the recently formulated vision and policy of our new educational system namely foundation based education. In this system it is assumed that the mother tongue must be the language of instruction. This means Papiamentu for the Leeward Islands and English for the Windward Islands. This viewpoint is supported by:

• cultural and educational policy reasons: to counteract estrangement of own culture and promote cultural independence and personal identity.

• developmental psychology reasons: education in ones own language increases the self esteem of the students and guarantees continuity of his/her language development.

•didactical reasons: from a didactic viewpoint education must always be related to the child’s knowledge of the world. The development of skills in one’s mother tongue simplifies them and positively influences the learning process of other languages.

Introduction of the mother tongue as the language of instruction does not have the approval of all groups of the community. Several groups have a different interpretation due to personal interests. The Roman-Catholic school board favors a bilingual educational system. This school board has submitted a pilot project and has also started an information campaign to keep Dutch in the schools. A survey was also done among the parents whose children visit their schools. This survey was done however without providing the parents with adequate information regarding the possibilities and consequences of the two languages in education. This school board is of the opinion that parents should decide the language of instruction for their children. The Supreme Court pronounced sentence over this situation in July of 1999. The sentence states that the school board must be given the opportunity to start with the pilot-project.

The Minister of Education has stated that before the end of the current year a decision regarding which language will become the official language of instruction will be announced. For this reason an information campaign was started in order that everyone is appropriately informed about the language problem as an aspect of the planned educational innovations.

Within the language policy attention was also placed on foreign language education. Besides Dutch the students will also learn Spanish and English. Mastering a foreign language is important due to our dependency on further education in foreign countries, tourism, the economy, and the continuing modernization of data collection and knowledge acquisition.


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