Dutch education system increases inequalities, SER says

Children could be sent home to highlight the problem. Photo: Depositphotos.com

The Dutch education system is growing inequality of opportunity between children and the coronavirus has only made the situation worse, the government’s top advisory body said on Friday.

SER, which is made up of union, employer and lay members, said children from more disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to have a “nurturing and supportive home environment” and that they have been hit harder by closures. schools during the pandemic.

The report calls on the government to do more to improve the quality of education by tackling the teacher shortage, large class sizes and declining language and arithmetic skills.

Equal opportunity in education is in everyone’s interest, said lay member Steven van Eijck. “It’s a good idea to make the most of your talents, to do what you’re good at and to develop yourself. And it’s also good for our society.

Earlier this year, the Onderwijsraad education council made similar recommendations. He also said the coronavirus had exacerbated the differences between population groups.

Like the education council, the SER has also called for the establishment of mixed classes in the first years of secondary school, so that children do not go to school at age 12, as they are now.

Education, SER said, has a major role to play in reducing the disadvantages some children face growing up. ‘But education does not play the role of a “great equalizer,” SER said. On the contrary, the way our education system is organized can increase inequality of opportunity rather than reduce it. ‘

Mixed capacity classes

The proportion of first-year classes with mixed abilities, called brugklassen or bridging course in Dutch, has increased from 70% to 55% in the last 10 years. Some 54% of 12-year-olds currently attend vmbo or trade schools, while 22% are in pre-university (vwo) and 24% in pre-university (havo).

School inspectors have also warned of the ‘unacceptable’ inequality in Dutch education, as children of well-educated parents score better on leaving primary school exams than children of equal intelligence from backgrounds. more disadvantaged.

For example, well-educated parents are more involved in the choice of school and invest money in tutors, homework lessons, and examination skills training. Their children are also more likely to be labeled dyslexic or ADHD, which also entitles them to additional teaching time.

Segregation

The SCP government’s socio-cultural advisory group said earlier this year that the lack of contact between different social groups at the school level can lead to increased segregation in society as a whole.

The problem is particularly acute in cities, where most schools are separate and children rarely meet those from other streams, the researchers say. “In this way, secondary education falls far short of its goal of teaching students to live together as citizens in a complex and diverse society.

The International Community Advisory Platform is currently researching expat experiences in schools in the Netherlands. Participate here

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