Debate programme brings Molenbeek community into the school

In order to find out how the Brede School Network links schools with organisations in the local and wider community, we visited Ket & Co in Molenbeek, which hosts regular after-school Debateville activities.

Lisa Semeniouk (Debateville mentor): I became a mentor at Debateville perhaps in the first place for myself, because I wanted to have a better feeling for the community where I live, and because I was incredibly curious to meet the children from my community, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek. Because, of course, there is no better way to know what is going on in the community than to speak with the children. It’s the simple things – if I notice that, okay, after a few lessons the quiet children spontaneously talk a lot louder, they don’t hesitate before they start a presentation, and they are comfortable and calm when they need to say something in front of a group. I find that fantastic to see, because I really think their future will be a little easier this way.

Sofie Meylaers (teacher at Ket & Co Molenbeek): I am Ms. Sofie, I work here at Ket & Co Molenbeek, and I am here with my colleague in the fifth and sixth grade. It is a mixed-grade class, so we co-teach 5th and 6th grade together. We got in touch with Debateville through the Brede School Network. And the Brede School Network brings various schools in contact with organisations, mainly from a societal perspective. And in this way, Debateville came and gave a sample lesson for the 5th grade. And several students registered for it right away.

Sara (pupil at Ket & Co Molenbeek): I just thought it would be nice, and I do find it nice – and I came here to gain more confidence, to be able to debate better, and because it is better for my Dutch.

Sofie Meylaers: Debateville comes to this school every Monday. That means our children don’t need to go to another location and can just stay here. I always remain here in the school to make sure that our students really go there and that it works all right. And in this way, I also keep in touch with the people from Debateville to see if it is going smoothly, and every Tuesday and even the week after I ask the students: how is it going, what are you learning there, are there things that we can do here in the classroom? And then, what they learn there – because it’s not all students who go these debates – they bring it here in the classroom and teach it to the other students. And so, the school works with different organisations here in Molenbeek. We really try to draw the community into the school and draw the school out into the broader world, to shape our students into world citizens.