June 28, 2023
Eindhoven News together with a few political parties in the city council organized a round table in "Wijkcentrum t'slot" community center on the evening of 28 June. The agenda for the round table was for the international residents to make their voices heard to the city councillors. Residents who are not originally from the Netherlands could make the city councillors aware of their concerns. Several issues were raised, from missing a shared space for cultural activities to a need for more information about available services.
Thanks to the network of language communities that HLE Network has built up since 2018, the heads of heritage language education programs in the region could easily be gathered to attend this meeting and take advantage of the opportunity to meet with local politicians. We counted approximately 12 representatives from heritage language (HL) programs and activities at the event, offering lessons to an estimated total of 1000+ multilingual students in the city. Four of the HL programs present that evening have been operating for more than 20 years.
Representatives from the political parties Volt, VVD, Partij van de Dieren, GroenLinks, and the PvdA were present at the meeting. We of course made sure that they all went home with information leaflets about the importance of heritage language education, how it benefits society at large, and how it requires support from the local community in order to succeed.
In particular, a topic that was raised was the issue of lesson locations for heritage language education programs. Unfortunately, the current situation does not guarantee universally affordable, suitable, or stable locations for the many programs operating in Eindhoven. This is a sometimes sensitive but increasingly vital issue to be addressed in the face of building rental price hikes across the city, and a few HL programs are under threat of closing if no action is taken on the part of the city.
We hope that the dialogue between migrant minority communities and the city of Eindhoven will remain open and fruitful. Many thanks to Eindhoven News for organizing this meeting and for the opportunity to participate!