Hundreds of children are living in boarding houses run by mosques, some of which are not fire-safe and others which are illegal, the NRC reported on Saturday.
Some parents send their children to mosque-run boarding houses because they are unable to care for them themselves or think their children will have a better start in life.
VU university researcher Mehmet Sahin told the paper he estimates some 3,000 children live in mosque-run boarding houses, often under very strict living conditions.
Unlike other forms of childcare, the government does not carry out any form of supervision of the conditions in which these children live, the paper says. There are no quality standards and workers do not need formal approval to work with children.
Mosque-run boarding houses operate in Arnhem, Utrecht, Breda and Amsterdam and there are thought to be at least four in Rotterdam, the NRC said.
In one illegal boarding house in Rotterdam, 50 girls are said to sleep in an attic which is ‘totally unsafe in terms of fire’, according to council documents, quoted by the paper.
Socialist party MP Sadet Karabulut told the NRC action needs to be taken. ‘The government is aware of an unsafe and illegal situation and does nothing. That is plain wrong,’ she said.
The Muslim Contact group CMO said later on Saturday it was surprised by the commotion surrounding the mosque boarding houses. ‘The COM supports the social importance of these educational centres in which Muslim youngsters are given structural support to perform well at school,’ the organisation said.
Such institutions foster an educational climate in which children can develop their full potential and called on ‘everyone involved to make a positive contribution to the future of the children’.
Meanwhile, education ministry officials have asked Rotterdam city council for more information about its policy on the city’s mosque-run boarding houses.