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Language supervision in schools

The language inspectorate was called into to life by article 18 of the Law of 30 July 1963 concerning language in education. This law lays down the official language of education in Belgium: that is, Dutch in the Dutch-speaking region; French in the French-speaking region; German in the German-speaking region; French and Dutch in the bilingual Brussels Capital Region and the municipalities with linguistic facilities.

After the power in education was devolved in 1989, the Flemish, French and German communities took control of the use of languages. But, according to article 129 § 2 of the Constitution, this power stayed at the federal level for the bilingual Brussels Capital Region and municipalities with linguistic facilities. This is why language inspection has always been a federal matter.

The activities of the language inspectorate are laid down by the Royal Decrees of 30 November 1966 and 14 March 1997. The first RD lays down the legal models for the language certificate and the language statement, the basic administrative documents underpinning the workings of the language inspectorate. The second RD sets out the number of language inspectors and their tasks.

Specifically, language inspectors check the language lists at the lower secondary schools and the high schools of the Brussels Capital Region and the municipalities with linguistic facilities. These lists contain the names of newly registered pupils, their legal addresses and the legal basis for their registration: a registration form, language certificate or language statement. The language inspectors are also required to check the latter two documents. If there is any doubt as to their authenticity, the language inspectors visit the institution to carry out an inspection.

The language inspectorate encompasses two professional bodies: the language inspection Commission and Jury. Both are made up of magistrates and top officials. The Commission settles disputes between the language inspectors; the Jury settles disputes between language inspectors and heads of the family. The Jury is the instance of appeal with relation to the decisions of the Commission. The FPS Science Policy also acts as secretary for the Commission and the Jury.

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