Around 4,000 children missed at least three months of school last year despite efforts by the government to tackle the causes of long-term absence.
The number of so-called ‘thuiszitters‘ was roughly the same in 2016/17 as in the previous academic year. Around 1700 children were not registered with a school at all.
Education minister Arie Slob said the trend was ‘not acceptable’. ‘Children who don’t go to school can fall behind in their education, but also miss out on making friends,’ he said.
Two years ago former children’s ombudsman Marc Dullaert was given the job of enacting an agreement between the government, education authorities and municipalities to improve the system for reducing school absence.
Dullaert said youth care and education services needed to work more closely together to identify children at risk of missing school. School absence is often linked to domestic problems such as an acrimonious divorce.
The current government has extended Dullaert’s term by six months. Slob said he also wanted to change the system for exempting children from school, which is currently the responsibility of family doctors.
The minister said schools and local authorities should be involved in the process. ‘That would help doctors making the decision because they don’t always have a good picture of the available options to tailor the schooling for the pupil.’