Support our work!
Heritage Language Schools Eindhoven will form a non-profit foundation/stichting.
We are accepting donations to fund our start-up costs.
Integrity & Transparency
Our statutes will be ANBI- and WBTR-proof.
We will apply to be a charitable organization.
Why support heritage language education?
Language diversity is an asset and a right
Linguistic diversity is an asset to society. Citizens who speak multiple languages have more educational options and more diverse job opportunities. Multilinguals enable their country to engage in richer international collaboration. It is no surprise that the European Commission currently promotes language learning and linguistic diversity across Europe.
Developing skills in more than one language is not only useful. Having the opportunity to study one's home language is considered a universal right by UNESCO. The 1960 Convention against Discrimination in Education states in Article 5 that “the members of national minorities [have the right] to carry on their own educational activities, including… the use or the teaching of their own language" provided that the students are not hindered from integrating into the local community. This means that multilingual children in the Netherlands have the right to celebrate and understand their heritage language while at the same time integrating into the Dutch society.
Heritage language programs provide invaluable supplemental education
When multilingual children enter the mainstream school system, they risk the loss or diminishment of their mother tongue. Parents want their children to be able to connect with other children and extended family members who speak the same home language, to learn to read and write in the home language, and to understand the traditions of the home culture. A strong basis in the home language allows children to learn additional languages more easily and leads to greater social and academic success overall for multilingual children. For these reasons, parents enroll their children in language programs that operate outside of the Dutch education system.
Heritage language (HL) programs – also called “mother tongue,” "weekend," or "community-based languages" schools – are usually non-profit initiatives founded and operated by parents from a particular language community in order to maintain the language and culture of their children’s heritage. These programs crop up organically in every corner of the globe. Lessons take place after school time or on the weekend throughout the school year. HL programs play an important role in the education and development of multilingual children, providing an arguably indispensable service to the community.
An unmistakable mismatch
There is a mismatch between how important HL education is and how difficult it is to establish a successful and effective HL program. Because HL programs operate independently, their structure, quality, size, and level of success vary considerably. The leadership at some of these schools are trained in school management and language development, others might not be. Some programs receive support from home governments, others do not. Common issues faced by these schools are: finding and keeping volunteers, teachers, and families; staying afloat with limited funds; finding a suitable and affordable location, creating appropriate materials, handling a special student population (with mixed levels of skills and motivation); and offering a valuable program with limited class hours and limited planning time.
Educational equity, inclusion, and internationalization are all currently hot topics in the Netherlands, and subsidies related to these themes are widely available to mainstream schools. Unfortunately, HL programs are not eligible for public resources in the way that mainstream schools are. What we see is that multilingual children often do not have access to lessons in their heritage language – and even if lessons are available, many parents and teachers of multilingual children are uninformed about the importance of these lessons. Furthermore, mainstream school policies often do not include the promotion of HL education. Already less resilient than the mainstream school system, many HL programs have had to shut down in the face of additional strain brought by pandemic measures.
In short, there is a tangible and urgent need for organized advocacy on behalf of HL education.
A foundation for heritage language education
In locations across the world, it has been demonstrated that organizations that give voice to the common issues faced by heritage language education programs are better able to influence society than the individual language programs. Such organizations are able to impact children's language development at various levels of influence: they can advocate at the highest level to educational authorities or policy makers, they can collaborate with school boards and staff, or they can create opportunities for HL teachers, parents, and students.
With a foundation/stichting based on HLSE, this is what we aim to do.
We are currently accepting donations to fund our start-up costs to form a non-profit foundation/stichting (notary, KvK registration, insurance for first year, data storage, and related). Our statutes will be ANBI- and WTBR-proof, and we intend to apply for status as a charitable organization. Donors can be featured for 12 months on our homepage. Please contact us if you would like to make a contribution.