Since the beginning of the school year, pupils have had weekly lessons on Wednesday afternoons, Saturdays or Sundays, at three locations: atheneum GO! for business in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, GO! Atheneum in Anderlecht and GO! Atheneum E Hiel in Schaarbeek, where VUB and GO! Scholengroep Brussel organised a graduation ceremony.
On Sunday, students who attended the programme in Schaerbeek received their diplomas from Sven Gatz, the Brussels minister of Dutch-Language Education and Multilingualism, VUB rector Jan Danckaert, Raf Provost of GO! Scholengroep and school director Piet Van De Velde.
On Wednesday and Saturday, it was the turn of students from the other two locations. They were presented with their certificates by representatives of GO! Scholengroep Brussel, school directors and ALEF team members.
About the ALEF programme
"Since 2016, there has been space each year for 300 children in the GO! Scholengroep Brussel under our coordination," says VUB project coordinator Sami Azar. "We have recently expanded our operation by working with various municipalities and non-profit organisations. So this year, 60 pupils in GBS windroos Molenbeek, 45 in GO! Scholengroep Gent, 30 in Mechelen and 20 in Oudenaarde have taken the classes. The end-of-year tests are arranged centrally and we award a certificate based on the results."
The ALEF certificate is currently the only one in Europe that assesses Arabic language skills in children based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
"The teachers have a background in education and are usually people who have been forced to flee their home country," says Azar. "The programme gives them an opportunity to maintain and enhance their skills. At the same time, they are introduced to our labour market, while being supported by VUB experts in linguistics and second language acquisition."
As well as the teaching package, each lesson includes additional activities such as role playing, group work, storytelling, music and theatre. Arabic, Dutch and French are spoken during these activities, which allow children to learn about each other’s cultural backgrounds and languages in an open and casual way. It also helps them develop the skills to interact in a respectful manner. At the same time, the programme underlines the importance of multilingualism, as a catalyst for communication, social contacts, creativity and cognitive processes.
"The ALEF programme allows VUB, as an urban engaged university, to help solve metropolitan challenges such as the refugee crisis, promoting diversity in Brussels and highlighting the importance of multilingualism," says vice-rector for Internationalisation Karin Vanderkerken.
Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.
The World Needs You
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig - The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People , because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership , VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré , the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ’urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.