Compulsory integration courses which most non-EU residents have to go through to qualify for a residency permit are well below standard and fail to achieve their purpose, integration minister Ella Vogelaar told MPs on Thursday.
Over half of those taking such a course in 2005 failed to reach the desired standard of Dutch, she said, announcing that her ministry would be looking at what was needed to bring courses up to scratch.
In their government agreement, the three coalition parties – Christian Democrats, Labour (PvdA) and ChristenUnie – said they would make major efforts to integrate both new and older migrants, as well as eradicate waiting lists for language and citizenship courses over the next few years.
However, Vogelaar hinted that in order to improve the quality of the courses, the ambition to broaden the range of participants may have to be put on hold.
Labour MP Staf Depla said the news was extremely disappointing and asked if it wasn’t a waste of money to send people on language courses when they did not learn the language? Barry Madlener of the anti-immigration PVV pointed out that an enormous industry had grown up around the integration of immigrants. ‘And it has done nothing,’ he said.
Since March 2006, new immigrants have had to take the integration test in their country of origin. The government has also turned its attention to older migrants, particularly women, who never learned Dutch.
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