Flemish schools are not allowed to oblige parents to buy laptops through school

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Schools in Flanders may require parents to purchase a certain type of laptop, but they are not obliged to do so through the school. This is determined by the Careful Management Committee after parents complained about the mandatory purchase of laptops.

The opinion of the committee makes it clear that parents of school-age children do not have to purchase a laptop from a partner of the school. However, it may concern the imposition of a certain type of laptop, such as a Windows laptop or Chromebook. According to Het Nieuwsblad, it is not clear from the committee’s decision whether schools may also request a specific brand.

That decision was made on the basis of two complaints from four parents. They objected to the mandatory purchase of a laptop, even though they already had a laptop. At one of the schools, it was a laptop worth 774 euros. The complaint emphasized that some parents were already struggling due to economic conditions or unemployment.

The compulsory purchase follows from the Digisprong plan of the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training, even though ‘loan’ was also discussed there. The aim is to provide ‘free’ laptops to students from the fifth grade. For this, 290 euros per pupil in primary and 510 euros in secondary education would be made available. In practice, according to Nieuwsblad, it turned out that parents were still confronted with considerable costs.

There was also the example of a school that gave much less discount on a laptop than the planned 510 euros: the discount was only 255 euros on a laptop of 774 euros. The ministry will therefore monitor the spending of the reserved Digisprong money more strictly. Not all Flemish schools have yet implemented the plan for mandatory laptops: they have until the end of next school year to order them.

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