Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Plan to make Brussels' school playgrounds more inclusive

13:31 08/07/2023

The City of Brussels is investing €11.5 million to make more than 50 nursery, primary and secondary school playgrounds in the capital a better place to be.

The aim is to help fight discrimination between girls and boys, by for example giving girls more space to play instead of dedicating most of the play area to football and relegating them to the edges of the courtyard.

The plan will also make school playgrounds greener by creating places where pupils can learn gardening.

This follows on from Operation Re-creation, a project initiated by Brussels Environment in partnership with the region’s development agency aiming to make playgrounds in 20 Brussels schools “an oasis of green in the heart of the city”.

Behind the scheme is a mass of studies saying how important the playground is to a child’s development. It is a place to play, meet and make friends but can also be one of fights and bullying. Brussels authorities are now acting to make breaktime a period where no child feels excluded.

Laeken’s Ecole des Magnolias, a stone’s throw from Heysel, is one school benefiting from the plan. Its new play area for the nursery school section, inaugurated recently by alderwomen for public education and heritage respectively, Faouzia Hariche and Lydia Mutyebele, is split up into different zones – for football, running and for simply playing.

They are also calmer areas. Notably, there is a “bench for reflection” for children who want to be on their own and a “friendship bench” for those who want to talk to their friends or make new ones.

Studies from the Belgian federation of parents’ associations (FAPEO) say that these new playgrounds are fairer in terms of boy/girl space.

Assessments also show, unsurprisingly, as greener playgrounds mean less concrete, that they result in far fewer accidents – with consumer association Test-Achats survey noting that most school accidents (45%) happen in the playground.

Written by Liz Newmark