NAOS team with the headmaster of Keerpunt
-Antwerp is located in the northernmost part of Belgium, in the region of Flanders. It is the second biggest city in the country and boasts a reputation for being an extremely multicultural place, a trend which has been strengthened by the geopolitical significance of the city’s large port. Numerous ethnically diverse groups make up an astounding 39% of the city’s total population, and impressively, studies project that ratio of people with migrant background to go up to about 55% by 2020. Unsurprisingly, these rapidly rising numbers have caused a challenge to education policy makers, and large efforts are currently in play to mitigate high drop-out rates and school completion delays, paired with a vitally impactful low socioeconomic status for a sizable number of people.
-The NAOS partners participating in the Antwerp study visit were Netherlands and Greece; the educational diversity themes emphasized during our visit were school community relationships and parent participation. We were fortunate to observe two extraordinary schools, both of which comprised commendable leadership, were willing to collaborate with copious educational stakeholders, and as we got to see- schools which were proud of their uniqueness and diverse makeup. On the first day we visited secondary school Het Keerpunt, a building which has been recently offered as a “cultural hub” in the middle of the diverse neighborhood of Borgerhout. Het Keerpunt currently teams up with a number of initiatives from the construction and cultural (opera, theater) sectors. Its willingness to serve the entire community and not just the schools’ students is reflected in the 20,000 people that yearly pass by the school for a particular event or workshop. On our second day, we visited De Schakel, a primary school located in the equally multicultural district of Hoboken. We observed an incredibly active, proud open-door policy school, largely defined by its participation in PIEO (The Innovation in Excellence of Education) initiative. It constitutes a home environment for the parents of the students, often people who have grown up in very unfortunate circumstances and are illiterate. The schools’ efforts have gone a long way in helping these parents and their children with talent development, language acquisition as well as extracurricular involvement.
The Antwerp visit report can be accessed here: