Chief of Cabinet of Ben Weyts (N-VA) will become the new head of the Education Inspectorate

Chief of Cabinet of Ben Weyts (N-VA) will become the new head of the Education Inspectorate
Chief of Cabinet of Ben Weyts (N-VA) will become the new head of the Education Inspectorate

The Flemish government appointed a successor to Lieven Viaene last Friday. The West Flemish inspector general received an honorable discharge from the government earlier this year and is retiring. The new top woman of the Education Inspectorate will be Katrien Bonneux. After a selection procedure carried out by an external agency, two candidates were nominated to the Flemish government. He finally chose Bonneux.

Since 2021, Bonneux has been Chief of Cabinet for Education to Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts (N-VA). When Carine Steverlynck, Weyts’ first chief of staff, left, Bonneux was a logical choice. She took on the role of corona policy coordinator in 2020 and thus gained the spotlight.

According to Weyts, she has “a solid track record in education policy”. She started working at the Support Policy department of the Department of Education and Training in 2006 and became department head of the Secondary Education and Student Guidance department in 2012. “This is a matter of the right woman in the right place. Major challenges await the Education Inspectorate: helping to reduce the planning burden and improve the quality of education,” said the minister.

Politically and educationally concerned

The choice for Bonneux is certainly striking. At his farewell, former CEO Lieven Viaene lashed out strongly at Weyts. Viane found both the minister’s vision and the way he worked to be below standard. For example, communication about certain studies was not allowed and press releases were rewritten. “We are being silenced,” Viaene said The standard.

Viaene – and many in the education field with him – are concerned about the independence of the inspection. He said: “The denial of independence is detrimental to the future. The inspectorate only has effectiveness if it can function independently of politics and report objectively. If she is used to drive for the minister, she does not have one.”

Politics was also harsh on the minister’s attitude: from “creepy and very harmful” (Vooruit) and “independence is crucial” (Open VLD) to “the primacy of politics has completely gone in Flanders. It is detrimental to good governance” (Green).

The fact that a chief of staff is immediately promoted to a top position at the watchdog reinforces those fears. “Where is there any confidence in serious advice from the inspectorate in an independent manner?” says a source from civil society, who wishes to remain anonymous. “This is really a position that you cannot immediately step into as chief of staff.”

It is of course not surprising that there are political appointments, but it is strange that they also head the inspectorate. Her profile differs significantly from that of her predecessor, Viaene. He came to the inspectorate as general director of a large school group. The choice of Bonneux is in line with an earlier response from Weyts, who sees the inspectorate as one of the top civil servants under him. About Viaene’s criticism, he said: “If he wants to become independent, he can start a shop or a barbershop.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Chief Cabinet Ben Weyts NVA Education Inspectorate


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