Prevention rather than cure … In education too

Numerous studies have confirmed the importance of the first 12 years of life, but this aspect remains ignored from a budgetary and political point of view.

Sofie Foets.

Naa ba sab ka the belly ball in front of “Don’t look”? This blockbuster chronicles the collision of a comet with Earth, after the gravity of its impact was withheld despite relentless warnings from astronomers.

The satire illustrates an uncomfortable fact: Prevention is often more effective than cure, and yet we have not chosen this path. Because successful prevention is invisible: it will not allow the problem to arise. So avoidance is rarely rewarded and more often neglected.

Simon Ghiotto.

Consider health care, for example: it’s the disease that brings in money, not prevention. Unfortunately, this is also the case with education and youth. Numerous studies have confirmed the importance of the first 12 years of life, but this aspect remains ignored from a budgetary and political point of view. We are told that our origins do not have to determine our future, if there is no activation of the necessary levers to achieve it. Change is needed.

Among the societal challenges that require political attention, the great inequality in education within our country a constantly lingering unseen problem. We complain about the declining PISA results and the strongest correlation between socio-economic status and educational performance in OECD countries, but the government offers some additional resources for vulnerable youth socio-economic.

Invest in prevention

In addition, the education budget is disproportionately spent on secondary and higher education. Authorities have been quick to present major plans to bring back young people who have graduated from school, but have been slow to address staffing shortfalls reported by child care services and schools.



We need skills to acquire others. Building a good future starts with a solid foundation.

Basic literacy in elementary and secondary education has received more attention, however from the age of three, the language gap is significant. An disadvantaged child knows an average of 1,200 words, a disadvantaged child only 400. preventive investment in socio-economically vulnerable youth represents significant potential and benefit for all. This approach can help eliminate problems such as crime, long -term unemployment and poverty.

There is a lot of research to show that the greatest effect is achieved through prevention, starting in early childhood. Heckman, Nobel Laureate in Economics, is known for his work on early intervention. His perspective in five words? Skills create skills. We need skills to acquire others. Building a good future starts with a solid foundation.

There is a lack of an ambitious policy aimed at (older) young people, aimed at identifying as well as addressing challenges at an early stage, and focusing on prevention rather than cure. It takes courage and resources. This money, however, we are already spending.

€ 7,798

Cost to repeat student

Belgium has an unequal number of repeaters in secondary education, at a cost of 7,798 euros per child per year.

Belgium has one disproportionate number of repeaters in secondary education, at a cost of 7,798 euros per child per year. Nearly one in 10 young people left secondary education without a diploma and for disadvantaged young people from Brussels of non-European origin, this number has risen to almost one in two, according to some studies.

Unfortunately, young people who leave school early often become NEET, i.e. young people aged 15 to 29. “Not in Education, Work or Training”. According to some estimates, a NEET costs society about a million euros over its lifetime. However, ways to prevent early dropping out of school, repetition and NEET are limited; more visible measures are often favored, such as support when damage has already been done.

Redirect resources

How to do better in the future? To give more importance to avoidance, it is necessary introduce a series of measures that cut down on different age groups, skill areas and power levels.



We will focus investments early and prioritize support for vulnerable young people.

Belgium spends more than average on education, but not always in the best way or at the right time in the course of life. Some of the best measures for the development of our (vulnerable) youth can be found even elsewhere. Consider, for example, quality and prompt child care services. We are praying for a redirection of resources. We will focus investments early and prioritize support for vulnerable young people.

We will also – as much as possible – break down the walls between areas of ability and power levels. Our youth deserve to a transverse approach that focuses on long-term results. Excessive division between skill areas and power levels often does not benefit their advancement, as it prevents long-term work being focused on. He who sows is often (very) impatient to reap. Make efforts and results more visible – through funding models such as “Social Impact Combinations” – helps in part, but this approach requires above all a great deal of political courage.

About the private sector, civil society and families themselves? Let us strengthen our arms for the good of the youngest and most vulnerable and cheer for the avoidance – on all levels – always.

Sofie Foets
Founder of TADA ASBL

Simon Ghiotto
With Itinera

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