Minister condemns school protests

Over 100 secondary school pupils were arrested on Monday afternoon as demonstrations against school hours got out of hand and were broken up by police.

In Amsterdam, water cannon were brought in to disperse hundreds of youngsters who had gathered on the city’s Museumplein. In The Hague, there were arrests as children threw eggs at parliament. In the province of Brabant 48 pupils were arrested.
The school walk-outs, which were not backed by the schoolchildren’s union LAKS, were in protest at government plans to make sure secondary school pupils attend 1,040 hours of lessons a year.
Not only does this make the school day too long, but schools use ‘fake’ lessons and homework classes to make up the hours, the pupils claim.
Junior education minister Marja van Bijsterveldt, who had earlier announced that schools would be free to fill in 40 hours of official lessons in other ways, condemned the protests.
Now she had made concessions, she ‘expects pupils to behave,’ the minister said. ‘Kicking cars and rioting is not part of that.’ She said too that it was scandalous that some teachers appear to support pupils.
Speaking on television on Monday night, Van Bijsterveldt said local council officials have powers to ban the demonstrations because legally, the pupils should be at school.
MPs are due to debate school hours on Wednesday. A further demonstration is planned for Friday if more concessions are not made.

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