9/25/2008

Children banned from speaking French?

That was two years ago:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5305484.stm Belgian town bans school French Belgium's regions enjoy a wide degree of educational autonomy The mayor of Merchtem in Belgium has defended a ban on speaking French in the town's schools. Eddie de Block said the ban, introduced on Monday, would help all non-Dutch speakers integrate in the Flemish town near Brussels. Mr de Block insisted that the new measure did not violate human rights. Belgium has witnessed a number of language rows between the Dutch-speaking Flemish population and the French-speaking Walloons. 'No problem' "What we want is to teach children to speak Dutch," Mr de Block told the BBC News website. "It's not a great problem," he said, adding that only about 8% of some 1,400 pupils in the town's four schools spoke languages other than Dutch. Street signs are sometimes defaced in the language dispute The ban means parents and children will only be allowed to speak Dutch on the school premises. Anyone caught speaking anything other than Dutch will be reprimanded by teachers. Mr de Block said two experts with degrees in teaching Dutch as a foreign language had been employed to help non-Dutch speaking pupils. However, parents will be allowed to use interpreters if they have communication problems during parents' meetings. The mayor dismissed suggestions that the ban violated human rights, saying the schools were being funded by Flemish communities who were responsible for safeguarding the Dutch language.
On March this year, a Brussels-based French speaker blogged the following rant:
The decision by the mayor of Merchtem has since expanded to other boroughs bordering Brussels where up to 80% of inhabitants are French-speakers. Even worse, the prohibition of the use of the French language now apply "around the school" ("omgeving"). Of course, the Flemish authorities do not specify what they mean by "around the school", so that the use of the French or English language is de facto banned on the entire territory. Numerous French-speaking children, perfectly bilingual, indicate that they are subject to pressure and threats from Flemish-speaking teachers so they do not dare to speak French or English between them outside the school. Some were indeed punished because they spoke French or English between them on the public highway. The prohibition of the French language among individuals is illegal.Yet this is the reality lived by French-speaking children in the heart of Europe.
The above post doesn't link to any evidence of other Flemish communities around Brussels trying to ban the use of French in and around schools, so that statement needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, especially given the French speakers' propensity to brandish the victim card in Belgium. Plus, there are no communities in Flanders with 80% French speakers, these statements are to be put in the same categories with the many other lies French speakers keep spreading about the respective importance of French and Flemish in Belgium. In this case, they lie about the importance of French in the communities located in Flanders between Brussels and the Wallonia border because they claim these communities for Wallonia in case of a Flemish secession. The communities in question are in Flanders because they were found Flemish speaking in the 1960s when the federal system was set up. It is highly improbable that French speakers should have become as numerous as the Francophone media claim they now are: the ethnic French have too dire TFRs in Belgium and the majority of French speakers in Brussels itself is a short one. Moroccans and other immigrants generally learn French in Wallonia and Dutch in Flanders. In Brussels, many immigrants speak both Dutch and French.

4 comments:

Ronduck said...

Belgium should not exist as a country. That country should be broken up in two parts so that each group may determine its' own future.

Unfrench said...

Belgium should indeed be broken up, but probably in more than two parts: Brussels and the German speaking part of the country belong to neither Wallonia nor Flanders in terms of cultural identity, economy or ethnic mix. The partition of Belgium therefore ought to be fourfold, Brussels becoming an autonomous EU capital district with a status comparable to the US's District of Columbia's while the German speaking area could choose its own fate per referendum and might end up independent or part of Luxemburg or Germany.
My own two cents.

Unfrench said...

By the way, Ronduck, I like your blog. Especially the colors.

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