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Pascal Smet is the new Minister of Education in Flanders. The Flemish Socialist Party (sp.a), favoured him over the incumbent Frank Vandenbroucke, a bold move which has raised quite a few eyebrows with both the governing and opposition parties. Pascal Smet was, until recently, the Minister of Transport and Public Works in the Brussels region, where his party was ousted in the negotiations over a new coalition. A Brussels resident, Smet holds a degree in Law from the University of Antwerp. He has no prior experience in Flanders regional politics. Whereas his predecessor combined the responsibility of Education with the departments of Work and Training, Smet’s ministerial portfolio further includes Brussels, Youth and Equal Opportunities.
In the coalition agreement, the new Flemish Government pleads for higher participation in lifelong learning, as well a 10 percent increase in the budget for higher education, aiming to approach the European target of 2 percent of the GDP allocated to education.