Minister lays foundation stone for Sint-Claracollege: ‘New school gives young people an appetite for learning’
A few handy students helped Pascal Smet (left) and Mieke Van Hecke (right) with their bricklaying task.
ARENDONK – ‘New school buildings give young people an appetite for learning.’ So said the Minister of Education Pascal Smet (SP.A) yesterday when he laid the foundation stone of the Sint-Claracollege in Arendonk, the first ‘school of tomorrow’ in Flanders.
Education in Flanders is up there with the best in the world but unfortunately, this is not the case for our school infrastructure, which is often old and run-down. If you ask for a subsidy for a new school building today, you have to wait an average of 20 years before the file is approved. That is why the Flemish government and two private investors have released a fund of millions of euros to build 165 new ‘schools of tomorrow’ in the next two years.
The first free school that has received funds from the new public/private piggy bank is the Sint-Claracollege in Arendonk. And that is exactly why Minister Pascal Smet and Director General Mieke Van Hecke from the catholic education body yesterday attended the start of the building works.
‘But also because I believe the Sint-Claracollege is an excellent school that is way ahead of its time’, said Minister Smet. ‘Here, there are pupils doing theoretical and technical courses together in one school – exactly what was intended with the Flemish education review. This is our future.’
Time capsule laid in concrete
Yesterday, a time capsule was placed into the poured concrete as a symbol that the college is ready for the future. It will be a school without a blackboard, it will only use smart-boards, and there will be wireless internet everywhere and charging points for laptops and iPads. The super-modern campus will cover 5,200 square metres and encompass 25 classrooms, various ICT and science rooms, learning islands and a large auditorium.
‘This new school will motivate youngsters’, explains Minister Smet. ‘It’s just like at home: if you live in a nice house, you are happier. That is the same at school. In a new school building, the pupils have more of an appetite for learning.’
The new Sint-Claracollege will open for business on 1 September 2015.