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Walloon government to invest in improving Dutch language learning

06:14 07/06/2021

The Walloon government will mobilise €10 billion to boost the economy, one of the key measures of which will be to promote the learning of Dutch.

At present, Dutch is not compulsory in schools in Wallonia, while French is well and truly integrated as the second language in Flemish education. As a result, many Walloons struggle with Dutch.

"The observation that we make within the Walloon government is that in a country like Belgium where there are three languages, but two dominant ones which are Dutch and French, we would solve a lot of problems and not only on the economic level if we could understand and talk to each other better," explained Jean-Luc Crucke, Walloon minister for budget and finance.

One of the things that ministers want to emphasise is that speaking Dutch is important when it comes to finding a job.

"If you know two languages, you have a better chance when it comes to getting a job," Crucke said, adding that "€10 million will be invested in this".

Crucke went on to reveal that the Walloon government wants to set up a system within employment portal Forem which ensures that jobseekers or those who work, but who would like to learn Dutch, get the opportunity to do so.

“When you are French-speaking, it is very important to learn Dutch to advance your career, especially in large companies or in the civil service,” said Gilles Verstraeten, a member of the Flemish N-VA party in the Brussels parliament.

"You can't love Belgium if you don't know Belgium,” he added. “And you can't know Belgium if you don't know Flanders and you can't know Flanders if you don't speak at least a little bit of its language.

"There are many Francophiles in Flanders and I am one of them, but we often have the feeling that it is a love that is not reciprocal, a love that does not go in the other direction. If everyone spoke the other’s language in this country, there would be no more linguistic quarrels."

Written by Nick Amies