“You can participate and discover culture at an unbeatable price,” insists Bénédicte Linard, Minister for Children, Health, Culture, Media and Women’s Rights of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.
This minister, originally from Anderlecht, now lives in Enghien in Hainaut. This comic book enthusiast has just returned from a visit to the library in Leuze-en-Hainaut and she reminds us that “you don’t have to be afraid to enter a library! They are no longer silent places as before. They have been active and interactive for several years. »
“A library is anchored in a municipality and a district. They are run by highly motivated people. The missions of the libraries have been evolving: they are places of exchange and activities in collaboration with schools, CPAS, prisons, nursing homes, extracurricular activities, ONE for consultations with parents, etc. They weave links between generations… all this is done in the service of the population. It is a pure public service. »
How many francophones are still pushing the door?
“In total, about 800,000 users, 18% of the population of the Federation. »
800,000? Seriously ?
“Across the country, we have 414 public libraries, including 5 mobile ones. We have 128 recognized by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. »
What, for you, can they be used for?
“They play an important role: I am convinced that we must bring more culture to more people and from an early age. The culture offers moments of respite, personal development, exchanges and critical thinking. Reading develops the brain to be able to acquire critical thinking. The library and books are assets for peaceful exchanges and to fight against fake news. »
Are you doing something against the digital divide?
“Libraries are developing digital tools to be even more efficient and fight against this phenomenon. »
Do they have a role to play against illiteracy?
“Today, 10% of the population is illiterate. We must address it through alliances between the different levels of power. We met with partners from industry associations to move forward. »
Improving access to reading and culture must also go through greater equality among children from an early age. Today, some benefit from loved ones, family or host communities that encourage them more than others.
Shouldn’t the compulsory school entry age be lowered to 4?
“I don’t want to set an age, but any time a child can benefit from community supervision, it’s good for them. This contributes to his personal and social awakening. Obviously, there are financial and organizational obstacles. This is not on the government table at the moment, but I will not close myself to this debate for the good of the child. »
What are the current solutions at this level?
“The first 1000 days of a child are very important. Children must have contact with activities, culture, socialization as quickly as possible… Once they are in school, there are three main places of education for a young person: family, school and extracurricular. It can evolve in different ways. »
In July, did some libraries lose everything?
“Thousands of books have disappeared with the floods. Some libraries have been hit and destroyed like Pepinster. Solidarity has been organized and, fortunately, book lending has been able to resume. The municipalities of Angleur and Theux in particular were also affected. The collections have disappeared. With the government of the Federation we have identified the means to return a space of culture and exchange to all these families. »
Do they help libraries modernize?
“Since the 2009 decree, the path of transformation of the librarian profession continues. We have established coaches to support libraries so they can transform. »
By what means?
“I brought additional funds at the beginning of the legislature with new policy envelopes. I assigned 5 million to the cultural operators anchored in their territory: cultural centre, center of expression and creativity and libraries… The latter have seen their budget increased by 2.25 million each year. This made it possible to finance the decree. It is a choice I made: local, sustainable and local culture. There are also inspections that ensure the improvement of services and support for players on the pitch. »
What can you still improve?
“We are going to review the decree in 2022. It is currently under discussion with the actors in the field to further facilitate the work of people on the site in accordance with the objectives that we set ourselves taking into account digital technology and its development. of course. . »
How are they more interactive today?
“They are aimed at all audiences and people don’t always know it. There are afternoons: “a blanket and in bed”. They do reading in the parks, without forgetting the writing workshops. There are also newspapers, concerts, shows, theater or alliances with digital public spaces or toy libraries. »
Last week at 7Dimanche, Maxime Prévot, the president of the “Committed” spoke of his desire to reform school time.
On the part of Minister Bénédicte Linard, according to her, the reflection has already been underway for many months.
“For years we have defended the idea that a school day should be adapted to the interests of children.
The reform of school rhythms was a first stone that was laid to be more in tune with the children’s rhythm. We don’t say it enough, but it helps reduce educational and social inequalities. »
And the reform of the school schedule?
“Minister Désir said that the issue of daily rhythms (school time) is not going to be dealt with in this legislature. This does not prevent further reflection. Work will be carried out to rethink as best as possible the structure of a day. What is the best way to organize this day so that it is more in tune with learning? I remind you that reviewing the organization of a day is not to do more school… but to add sport, culture…”
Reception environment, school, the Minister is in charge of the ONE and preventive medicine services for infants, children, male and female students. Are we in order when we approach a thousand Ukrainian children on our territory?
“First of all, I take my hat off to all elected city officials. They have led the health crisis, the floods and now Ukraine. The FWB government has addressed the issue of children. There are already more than 380 children coded in the school software. ONE and the schools immediately deployed their structures to accommodate them as best as possible. »
Also in terms of health?
“A preventive check-up is done for each child. This will allow them to complete their vaccination check but also take care of other care (mental health, teeth, glasses, etc.). All these children can be received in the consultations of the ONE, in the health promotion services at school… They are also received in out-of-school care. »
All this in a context where, with Covid, school medicine was already somewhat behind?
“We work with priorities. Vaccination and health checks have resumed… The PSE has worked hard and I congratulate them. »
Not to mention that we lack doctors with quotas from Inami?
“There is a shortage in the municipalities, in the communities. In the consultations of the ONE and PSE, we need doctors. It is necessary that at this level there are more students who go out to fill in the squares. I said it, with the government, to Minister Vandenbroucke. »
A word about the ventilation plan?
“We have been working upstream on ventilation for a long time with the cultural sector, which was concerned. We must take into account its reality. We play the active relay with the federal government. In principle, improving air quality for everyone is a good thing. It is even more useful for the most vulnerable audiences. This must be done with respect for the realities of each one and that the actors have time to put themselves in order. »