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Saturday, October 29, 2011


No knitting today: I want to tell you about Zuiddag. The concept of this project is that Belgian youngsters go out to work for one day instead of going to school. The money they earn goes to a development project in the third world. This year, the day took place on the 21st of October. On the organisation's website there's the Jobbank, a list of jobs that anybody could apply for. If you didn't find anything there, you could also look for a job yourself: lots of youngsters went to their local trades to ask if they could come and work there for a day. I applied for a job through the Jobbank. I never thought I would get it, but I did: I spent a day as an MP at the Flemish parliament! (My other great interest, apart from yarncrafting, is politics :D)
Our topic of discussion was the so-called talennota: a document about the future of language teaching in Flanders.
We met for the first time on October 6th. We spent that afternoon learning about the parliament itself and how  education legislation is developed. Thanks to Ellen from the VSK and some very nice ladies from 'De Kracht van Je Stem for that ! After that we had a discussion within the group on the different aspects of the talennota, so we could see if there was a common point of view or not. We ended the day by deciding which parts of the talennota we were going to talk about in the committee, two weeks later.

On October 20th, we all met up at Central Station in Brussels at 9 AM. The six of us were really exited about what would happen that day. In the morning, we got a tour of the buildings by a Katrien from De Kracht Van Je Stem. After that, we got half an hour to prepare for our speaking time. (We had more or less agreed on who was going to say what, but some extra time is always handy :D) When our time was up, we took the lift up to the top floor (there are 10 floor in total in that building, 5 above ground and five below) where we had lunch with our 'buddies', the MP's with whom we were going to sit and listen to the further discussion after our own intervention.

These were our 'buddies' from left to right:
two ladies from 'De Kracht van Je Stem' (not MP's)
 Kris and Katrien
The MP's
Gerda Van Steenberge (Vlaams Belang)
Kathleen Helsen (CD&V)
Marleen Vanderpoorten (Open Vld)
Kathleen Deckx (sp.a)
Elisabeth Meuleman (Groen!)
Vera Celis (N-VA)

The food was lovely, by the way :)
We talked about the reform of secondary education in Flanders. Personally, I'm quite happy that I will graduate before the system is reformed, but I must say that after having had this discussion I have a much better understanding of why this reform is needed. My problem with this reform is that it leaves a lot less room for the classic languages, and as I have been studying Latin for 5 years now (I'm now in 5LW6+) and have also studied Greek for 3 years, they are quite important to me. On the other hand, the reform is really needed because a lot of youngster make the wrong choice when choosing their studies. In Flanders the school system is known as 'the waterfall system' because a lot of kids start of in the more academic ASO, and if they can't cope there, they switch to the technical TSO (which is a little less prestigious) and if they can't cope there, they move on to BSO, which is professional schooling. The point of the reform is to let the kids choose the right option the first time around, and not the second or third time around, which, to say the least, is important. After the reform, the first year would be extremely general, the second year a little less, and after the first grade you specialise as you go along. For the majority of the youngsters it will be an improvement, but it'll be a step back for the more academic group... There are still a lot of discussions going on at the moment, so I'm not too sure about what will happen in the end...

And then, in the afternoon our moment of glory: we got to speak in front of the education and equality committee! We got to sit at the front with the chair, Boudewijn Bouckaert (LDD).

Within the general subject of the talennota, I held my speech on multilingualism in secondary education. Other subject that were talked about were the role of non-dutch speaking parents within the education, the role as Dutch as a language that is studied (the person talking about that pointed out that the was a d/t-mistake in the talennota itself, which caused somehavoc in the room :D) the language spectrum for other languages and immersion (teaching general subjects, for example history and geography) in another language. We talked for quite a while and we got loads of questions to answer, so the listen-to-the-MP's-debate-with-the-minister-part of the meeting was postponed and we finished early.
As you might have seen on the photos there were a lot of cameras there and we were even on the national news that evening!

I really enjoyed myself. I can't even find a proper word to describe how great it was. The best I can come up with is 'megagemaansupergeweldigcool' which means as much as 'utterlymegasuperincrediblycool' :)


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