Bilingual Education policy: Frisian

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Jan 27 13:51:31 UTC 2005

Forwarded from Linguist-List

Bilingual Education Policy
Date: 20-Jan-2005
From: Henk Wolf <hwolf at>

Dear linguists,

 Bilingual education has not been a controversial subject in Frisian
politics for years. Although bilingual primary education was prescribed by
law, the educational goals for the minority language Frisian were reached
by only 30% of all primary schools. In its 1999 evaluation report, the
school inspection criticized the general lack of enthusiasm among school
boards to teach Frisian. The also concluded that the teaching methods were
often inadequate and time spent on teaching Frisian was very limited (on
average 25 minutes per week).

 This situation was criticized by both the Dutch Ministry for Internal
Affairs and the Council of Europe, who regularly evaluate Frisian language
politics as laid down in the European Charter for Regional and Minority
Languages and several national agreements. No measures were undertaken,
however, to improve Frisian education. Recently, the debate on bilingual
education was reopened by the Frisian provincial government (Deputearre
Steaten), who declared in their report 'Herziening kerndoelen Fries in het
primair onderwijs' (revision of educational goals for Frisian in primary
education) that they no longer considered a policy of equivalent
bilingualism realistic. The provincial government now proposes to lower
the education goals, which still prescribe a level of full literacy. In
their proposal, only 'a positive attitude towards Frisian' would remain as
an obligatory goal. The government advises to leave it to every school
which extra goals they wish to attain for their pupils.

 I have read the report, as have other sociolinguists, and we are
surprised to see that no reference at all is made to research on
bilingualism or experiences of bilingual school elsewhere in the world.
The official policy of full equivalence of both official languages is
abandoned without a proper motivation. I invite you all to study the
report and the criticism given. Most of the information is available at the site of a pressure group that protest against the
plans. The information is mainly in Dutch and Frisian.

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list