Mixed school efforts work, says minister

The education ministry is backing a number of experimental projects to encourage ‘white’ parents to send their children to schools with largely ethnic-minority pupils in an effort to counteract growing apartheid in Dutch city schools.

At the moment some 35 groups of parents are involved in creating more balanced schools in their neighbourhoods, junior education minister Sharon Dijksma said on Wednesday.
The AD reports on Wednesday that there were 17 parent initiatives to create more representative schools launched in 2006, compared with just five in 2005.
The paper says the efforts have reduced the number of minority pupils at several schools in Amsterdam from 80% to around 50%, at one school in Rotterdam from 65% to 30% and in Utrecht from 88% to 52%.
Despite the success, the paper says parents are often frustrated at the lack of help from local councils and school boards.
‘The most important thing is to take away parents’ fears that ‘black’ schools don’t perform as well,’ Mickelle Haest, who is behind one of the initiatives, told NOS tv. ‘That is absolutely not the case.’
In the Netherlands parents are free to send their children to whichever school they like, which has led to increasing segregation in poorer areas where most immigrants are concentrated.
Research by the multicultural institute Forum earlier this year showed that in half of the 31 biggest Dutch cities primary school populations did not represent the ethnic make-up of their locality and that the situation is getting worse.

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