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EUROPEAN SCHOOLS AND OVERPOPULATION

As many of you already know, and it isn’t a novelty either, the European schools in Brussels suffer from a pressing overcrowding which not only worries parents but teachers and the Secretary-General’s office too.

 

While Belgium (Régie des bâtiments) finally agreed to the 5th school in Neder Over Hembeek for 2028, with a capacity of 3000 pupils, the issue now is how to balance the number of students and children throughout the 5 schools in 7 different sites.

A study carried out by PWC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) during 2021 on the situation of the European Schools in Brussels clearly shows the distress some of the schools find themselves in, for example, the capacity of Brussels I (Uccle) limited to 3.100 pupils is exceeded by +/- 300 pupils, Brussels II (Woluwe) has a capacity of 2.850 pupils and welcomes an additional 800, Brussels III (Ixelles) has close to 750 pupils over its capacity of 2.650 and Brussels IV (Laeken) has an additional average of 160 students above capacity of 2.800 pupils.

From 2015 to 2021, the number of children in both the primary and kindergarten sections increased by approximately 400 pupils, while in the secondary, the increase was around 2.000 students for that same period. According to the PWC survey, the overall population in our Brussels European schools is forecast to increase from 14.200 pupils in 2021 to 16.000 in 2028.

While awaiting the inauguration of the 5th school, several adjustments will have to be made to prepare the opening and, at the same time, limit the escalation of overcrowding as much as possible.

Several scenarios are under study by the Commission’s steering committee, involving representatives from all parties concerned, (including staff representatives as observers). The committee will meet with the Board of governors end of October to present which of scenarios would seem the best option to move forward with.

TAO is keeping a close eye on the subject and will do its utmost to ensure that the final solution is one that will benefit all students.