The new wave of internationals moving into the Brainport region brings in new families too. Increasingly, more families choose to call Eindhoven home. And with this decision arises the dilemma of educating their children in International schools or in local schools. However, an ideal option would be to have the best of both worlds. That is a bilingual curriculum that empowers children to access knowledge using two languages of instruction, Dutch and English. Though the International School Eindhoven offers such an opportunity, it is not an easily affordable option for many. So the internationals contemplate and discontentedly choose to either spend a good amount of money or to educate their children in a totally local environment.
Brainport organisations’ initiatives
Brainport sparked an initiative to accommodate international students into the Dutch primary education. The schools participating in the initiative provide extra help and attention in adapting the International kids into the Dutch education system. Nevertheless, uneasiness continued in the hearts and minds of the internationals. The Brainport organisation started weighing options to develop a winning strategy. Apart from conducting surveys and doing researches Brainport also encouraged schools to ideate on internationalising education.
Geert Simons – Director of internationalisation
The SALTO group of schools, with 22 schools in and around Eindhoven, has tabled its own internationalisation project. Spearheaded by Geert Simons, an expat himself, the project is making the right waves. Simons, a Flemish Belgian, has immense international experience from working in Germany, Nigeria and the UAE. He quips, “On this journey, I added value to my life by picking up my wife from Nigeria and becoming a father in Dubai. Now my family of four have moved to Eindhoven, last year” This father of two considers the international school education not affordable for many. Eindhoven News met Simons, the director of internationalisation of SALTO schools in his office for detailed information on this subject. Appealing pieces of art adorn his office. The art pieces are a contribution from his artist wife. Simons was part of the recent international roundtable held in June this year.
Internationalisation project, Salto group of Schools
Eindhoven is becoming more and more international at a fast pace. Simons affirms that global education is the need of the hour not only because of the swelling international population but also because the local children would need to work in an international atmosphere in the future. In addition to these prerequisites, the local schools saw increasing admission requests from the internationals. So, Salto Schools commissioned a market research on education needs.
The research found that most internationals did not know whether they are going to leave the Netherlands in a few years or stay longer. Therefore, to cater to this population that wants to integrate locally and yet do not want to lose its global adaptability an alternate solution is necessary. This is a very specific educational need with respect to Eindhoven and not so much with other cities in the Netherlands. This is because of the extraordinary growth of the Brainport region.
The SALTO schools decided to create such an education alternative that would focus on three principles:
- Be Yourself – focus on your roots and home culture by learning the home language.
- Become International – focus on English and international curriculum.
- Behold Dutch culture – focus on learning Dutch.
The school proposes to teach home languages to the children. If the number of students is low for certain languages then they intend to impart online classes or take parental support for teaching those languages. For the languages with larger numbers, the school plans to arrange tutors (for eg, Hindi, German or Tamil or French). These classes are slated to be taught within the school hours.
Salto Schools aim to start the international education in select schools by January because the number of children moving in at that time would not be many. But would start a full-fledged stream by August next year. Celebrating international events and other world citizenship programmes would be part of the internationalisation concept. Besides this new concept, all other SALTO schools will focus more on internationalisation as well. Some schools expect to have programs that have increased and integrated use of English up to 15 per cent.
Salto schools Reigerlaan, De Bergen and Cornelis Jetses are already imparting the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). IPC is an important feature in the internationalising project and many other SALTO schools are considering inculcating the IPC curriculum. Math and languages would be taught in the traditional way while the other subjects would be taught through the IPC research-based learning. More information about the IPC here.
The concept of bilingual schools
The proposed bilingual/.multilingual schools would be announced soon. If you would like to be invited for the information session, you can register by sending an email to [email protected] Geert Simons did not divulge the school locations since it is not official yet. Although he confirmed that the new concept school will be located between the city center and the High Tech Campus. A Blixembosch school may be earmarked for the same, confide our sources (Eindhoven News). For the Group 8 final exam, the bilingual schools could choose Math and Languages as mandatory subjects. Mr Simons asserts that ” we would be the 11th school to join the bilingual pilot project when we succeed”. With the other schools, the aim is to introduce English from group 1.
Digital exchange programmes
SALTO school Klimboom has virtual exchange programmes as early as group 1 and 2. The children work together on projects with children from other schools in places such as Africa. Simons has plans to implement these exchange programmes in many other schools as well.
Simons admits that the schools would love to borrow English books from the city library as they do now with the Dutch books. The number of English books in the city library must significantly increase for the same reason. Fund for a bigger library is more than welcome.
Promotion of the new concept
“We look forward to participation from parents. Our work reflects on families so we look out for parental cooperation and support. We are keen on spreading awareness about the concept. However, we do not join hands or partner with other private entities. We are a government school. Please feel free to contact us directly” affirms Simons in his closing lines. Link to the internationalisation project here.
The SALTO group of Schools has ambitious plans, so as an expat and a parent myself I would like to see the initiative succeed.
For Eindhoven News: Beena Arunraj