Where to Begin?
I am very excited about the idea that my daughter Laia will go to school next year, January 2019. I have heard pieces of advice, like on from a neighbour what is the best school to go, where her son goes, and with the barber who always a chit chat with my husband, is the same school they are referring us to go too. Enrolment in the Philippines is very easy and we have tons of kids in a class but you will not get lost in the normal process. And then we found out how it works here in Belgium. We don’t believe the two referring people being said that 5 years ago they camped out of the school. We shrug our shoulders and said, it won’t be the same with Laia.
Our daughter Laia, was born 2016. And for some reason, Belgium is quite good doing an advance registration for kids to go to school. A good idea of online registration and some early appointments which is happening in Brussels and Wallonie. Also, if you have an existing son, daughter at the same school where you want your third or fourth child to be in, you are safe. But not us in Vlaams Brabant. I have made an arrangement with the God Mother of Laia, Deza that she would be helping us during the registration process like we need people in case we can’t stay on the line anymore to assist us. She agreed wholeheartedly. We are ready, not even before we saw the news that out there days before the registration has started out camping. Video clip from La Une, 19h:
- There are fewer schools and class.
- There are fewer teachers.
- There are fewer slots, of course.
Parents are, of course, scared that the kids won’t have a school in the nearby vicinity of where they live. I will not want Laia to go far. We are happy in Wemmel and we are feeling that this manner should be addressed for the other parents out there who will camp out for the years.
Okay, to be sure, during September 2017, last year, I have already called several schools in Wemmel to be sure which are the exact dates to be there on time. Looks like no one would like to tell me, besides, look at the updates from the school website. Which makes sense because I am indeed too early to ask them. So, I have recorded in my notes, each website and phone number to be sure of when I have to do some follow-ups. After hearing the above news, we are 100 percent ready. Friday the week before the registration we went to check the school communal Nederlands to see if there are already movements of the parents making a queue. Take note the registration day is 1 March, Thursday, everyone might be working, busy, and that week turned out to be the coldest of winter 2018. We thought that maybe they are not around. We have checked info days, in Materdei, where we opted Laia to go. Sunday night, when my husband has to get some cash to be ready on Monday to work, he passed by 3 schools to again check them out. Thress, yes:
- School Communal Nederlands
- Saint Joseph
All three are clear. We are hoping to relax on Thursday will be still observing the days on Monday to Wednesday. Off my husband to work morning. The biggest mistake he made is not to pass by Materdei, in which 8 am there are already 5 people on the line for registration on Monday, it is freezing cold,-4. I have called him to go home and make the registration and stay on the line for Laia. We cannot go out because it is too cold for my 20 months old baby. I have no one. I called another friend, and received a message at 9 am that there are 8 people at the camping. Incredible! 10 am my husband decided to go direct to the school and check out what is happening. He arrived being the 10th and we had the info that there are 11 slots available. But we are wrong. The director says 8 slots. So, we leave it behind and move on to another plan.
Thank God for the life of our friends. Jake, the husband of Deza will be helping out to patrol the two more remaining school. Off Marlon to work on that Monday afternoon, and Jake patroled the community to see, he even asks the secretaries office of Saint Joseph, what to do. The next day, Jake stayed with us 6 am in the morning to patrol again, Marlon went to work and Jake can have his afternoon free. The boys did their job well, and it was surprising that the moment Jake had his lunch with us and Marlon is on the way home, he manages to pass to the schools again and got the impression that at the communal school has a starting line of campers. Saved by the bell, he was the 9th of 9 slots available. He called me and Jake assisted in bringing what is needed, he camped out to wait for me to stay on the line while Marlon gets his Auntie Lou to help us look after Laia. Wheew! What a story!
We got the place and we will not move.
Tuesday night, I had my dinner, cooked soup for Marlon, who will sleep in the car because they are not yet allowed to get in the school. I left Laia when she is already asleep with Auntie. Off I go, walking at the -9 winter. I managed to go with my bike back and forth the school. I left Marlon to sleep in the car. The next morning, people are showing the kindness of giving coffee, pieces of bread for breakfast. It is now Wednesday, after having breakfast I went to the school to have my turn to queue and let Marlon have his shower and rest a bit. Thank God it is not that cold to 5 degrees. I have stayed until the afternoon, we had a news that 18h that night the parents will be allowed to sleep in the school gym. Yay! Marlon is ready to sleep with the yoga mat and some blankets. Again, our friends are our treasures! Here come Carla and Aldrin ready to bring us dinner and an inflatable bed to sleep on. Hurray! We decided that I will stay at the school until the morning registrations open. Because of the language barrier, Marlon is not very comfortable of his Nederlands. He stays with Laia and came up 5h30 in the morning Thursday ot help me get out of the camping and go straight to the school registrar to make the final queue.
The end of it, I was very thankful for all has happened. Laia is the 50th on the list, but it is done! And one thing, I felt happy speaking to the directrice. And she says that I should also speak my mother language to Laia. The very first time I heard it to someone who works under education in Belgium. I saw the big playground of the school, the rules read on their website, the camping is worth it for 10 years Laia have a school.
What did we gain after all?
- We made friends with other parents who are also camping! Which I find cool because our kids will be sharing the same class or what not.
- I have practice my languages, French speakers majority are the parents, but with the school management we then all have to speak Nederlands. And some bits of it while we are camping with each other.
- Laia’s place is sure 200 percent. Hahaha!
It was all worth it. We wish that this manner of registration will be changed as follows to other communes, that online registration and people who are residing in the same commune should be prioritized. It is very hard, a challenge, imagine those who are single parents, have work to do, have no one beside them to help. I hope that this will be in the future change for the better of the community. But indeed, Laia is in! She has a school and we are thankful for all those who stand with us in this battle.
Wow, this is insanity! I won’t complain about our lives here to enroll in choice schools.
Really insance, I myself can’t believe that we have to go through all these.
Wow- camping out to secure a spot is so stressful! Glad she was able to get in. It makes me sad that there aren’t enough teachers/resources and its so very competitive. In the US, I feel like there are a ton of daycare choices, but the pricing is what really is a struggle to working mothers/fathers.
This is very hard, it is true that all situations of parents vary in many aspects, but our sacrifices are worth it. Thank you for reading me Toni!
Oh my goodness, yes, what a story! The things we do for our kids, right?! I’m so happy that your daughter was able to be enrolled!
Yes she will start on January 7 2019. Imagine that. Whew
That’s so crazy. I’m sorry you have to go through that to ensure a spot for your child. I’m hoping that raising awareness of the problem will help change things for future parents.
Daddy wins!? The twins declared.
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