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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Support measures for learners in adult education and training

Belgium - Flemish Community

12.Educational support and guidance

12.7Support measures for learners in adult education and training

Last update: 27 November 2023

Definition of the target group(s)

Adult Education

The specific target groups in adult education are

  • Students with visual or hearing impairments;
  • People with literacy problems;
  • Detainees.

Part-time artistic education (PAE)

Part-time art education has a reduced rate for various target groups.

Vocational training VDAB

The VDAB pays special attention to disadvantaged groups:

  • immigrants,
  • occupationally disabled,
  • elderly people,
  • people with low qualifications,

In addition, the VDAB pursues an incentive policy with training discounts for

  • risk employees,
  • individually redundant workers and
  • medically unfit workers.

There is also business promotion with discounts for employee training based on company size (maximum 25 employees in the company), Flemish recognition as a company in difficulty or as a company undergoing restructuring and collective redundancies.

Entrepreneurial training SYNTRA Flanders

There are specific routes for business management for job seekers and aliens. 

Training in Agriculture

Specific target groups, such as disabled or non-Dutch speakers, can be addressed if the centres provide training tailored to them.

Socio-cultural adult work 

The sector of socio-cultural work with adults pays a lot of attention to working with disadvantaged groups. Four disadvantaged groups are defined(Decree 7 July 2017):

  • People living in poverty;
  • People with a disability
  • Persons of foreign origin;
  • detainees

Specific support measures

Adult Education 

Students with a visual or hearing disability may be provided with special educational needs educational resources. Resources include technical equipment, paper or digital conversions or adjustments to teaching materials, sign language interpreters and copies of notes from fellow students.

Students with a hearing disability can call on the support of sign language interpreters. [See 12.1.2]. The allocated hours can be used flexibly for the various modules for which the student is enrolled. (Circular NO/2009/02 & VWO/2009/01)

The aim of the adult basic education courses is to increase the general level of literacy. In addition, literacy modules are provided for low-literacy students.

The education of detainees is coordinated by education coordinators appointed by the adult education consortia. They can count on the support of the partnership between the school advisory service and the Flemish Support Centre for Adult Education (VOCVO) [see]. There is also a “prisoner education steering committee”.

Part-time artistic education 

Part-time art education academies may adapt the syllabuses of pupils with special educational needs educational needs who follow the common curriculum, in addition to educational and school-organizational adaptations. For pupils with special educational needs educational needs for whom the common curriculum is not feasible, they may provide an individually adapted curriculum.   See circular – Pupils with special educational needs in part-time art education (Dutch only).

Vocational training VDAB

The VDAB offers various courses in Dutch as a second language: transition packages from level 1 to vocational training, Dutch on the Training Floor (NODO) and Dutch on the work floor (NODW). In the case of NODO or language support during the professional training, an analysis is made of the bottlenecks for each student. An action plan is then drawn up that shows how much guidance the student needs and which bottlenecks can be tackled together with the subject instructor.

A foreign-language student who passes a TIBO test (...) and wishes to follow a study programme in the secondary sector is eligible for this.

For people with disabilities, “reasonable accommodation” is possible during training (e.g. for people with hearing disabilities, a visual alarm on a machine instead of the auditory alarm).

Entrepreneurial training SYNTRA Flanders

In cooperation with the VDAB (dutch only), SYNTRA Flanders organizes an intensive course to entrepreneurship for non-native speakers aimed at candidate entrepreneurs whose language ability is not enough for them to join a regular course in business management.

Candidates who do not yet speak Dutch will first take an intensive course in NT2 via the House of Dutch. As a last step, they follow the business management course at SYNTRA (Dutch only). The content of the training is identical but provision is made for pre- or post-secondary courses for, among others, the lower educated and people with language difficulties so as to optimize their chances of success.

Throughout the entire process, the students are followed by a language and learning coach (TLC). Coach and student work together to set a number of goals to tackle the problems of the student and they work towards those goals in one or more sessions. The coach ensures that the student becomes capable of independently tackling his/her language or learning problems.

For initiatives that specifically target disadvantaged groups, the low threshold is taken into account and the enrolment fee is limited at the expense of the student by means of an adjusted subsidy.

Training in Agriculture

No specific measures have been introduced.

Socio-cultural adult work 

Subsidized socio-cultural adult organizations with an effect in the Dutch-speaking region (including Brussels Capital).

Organizations have two options in this respect:

  • developing working methods for the general public, including choices for communities, target groups or disadvantaged groups;
  • developing an effect for disadvantaged groups, including choices for communities, target groups or the general public.

Organizations must demonstrate their relationship to this assessment element in their policy plan and in their progress report. This is also taken into account in the evaluation of the functioning of the organizations and in the assessment of the grant application.

In the case of socio-cultural adult organizations with an effect within specific regions (the former folk academies), the extent to which the organization enables socio-cultural participation for as many inhabitants as possible with particular attention to disadvantaged groups is used as an assessment element.

The Red Anthracite provides a range of training, culture, sports, library and socio-cultural work for prisoners.

Language support: ‘Houses of the Dutch Language'as pivot points for Dutch as a 2nd language

There are four agencies that act as regional hubs for Dutch as a second language:

The agencies are responsible for optimizing the services provided to non-native speakers who wish to learn Dutch with a view to social, professional or educational reasonableness but who have fulfilled their full-time compulsory education.

The agencies are mapping out the entire range of Dutch as a Second Language (NT2) within their scope as well as the needs of non-native speakers looking for a course. The agencies are uniquely competent for the organization and coordination of intake, testing and referral of students who do not have an NT2 proof of studies. After the intake procedure, they orient the non-native speakers towards the most suitable Dutch course offering. Thanks to a specially developed student registration system, they inform the government about existing needs, possible waiting lists, traffic flow and cancellations.

The policy areas “Work and social economy”, “Education and Training” and “Housing and Naturalization” have an agreement framework NT2:

  • the organization and coordination of training provision; the mutual recognition of study certificates (including regional agreements on minimum and maximum group sizes among the various providers);
  • the orientation, level determination and learning pathways of the students;
  • the cooperation in the field of NT2 between the providers of NT2 (the Centres for Adult Basic Education, Adult Education, University Language Centres, VDAB, SYNTRA-Flanders), the reception agencies and consortia in the field of adult education.

The functioning of the agencies is determined by decree (Dutch only)

Language support: Plan to increase literacy 

The Literacy Plan 2017-2024 approved by the Government of Flanders contains the spearheads of the Flemish literacy policy for the future and articulates them in five strategic objectives:

1. We are bringing about a significant increase in the number of young people leaving secondary education with sufficient literacy skills to enable them to function independently and to participate in society and to develop and update their personal development and learning;

2. We are committed to increasing literacy within the family environment in order to break the intergenerational transmission of illiteracy;

3. We are strengthening the literacy competences of job seekers and workers in the context of their vocational training, their route to work or within their employment, in order to increase the chances of finding and keeping a job and to keep up with developments on the labour market;

4. We strengthen the literacy skills of people in poverty to increase their chances of getting out of poverty and increasing their participation in society;

5. We are committed to increasing the digital literacy of young people and adults so that they can participate in the fast increasingly digital society.

Funding for the Adult Education Centres and the Adult Basic Education Centres will be more focused on targeting vulnerable target groups from 1 September 2019: centres with a higher number of non-working job-seekers and low-skilled learners will receive more funding. A year later, the funding of the Adult Basic Education Centres will also be converted into an open-ended system, in which the number of participants will determine the number of resources, in other words, the more participants, the more resources.

Language support: Wablieft – centre for clear language

Wablieft is part of the Flemish Support Centre for Adult Education. Wablieft publishes a weekly newspaper in clear language, a fortnightly magazine and several books. The centre shares expertise with other organizations via training courses Clear Writing and provides text advice tailored to each target audience.