More pupils’ demos, minister fines schools

Schoolchildren’s union Laks said on Thursday it intends to go ahead with tomorrow’s protest demonstration following the decision by junior education minister Marja van Bijsterveldt not to make any further concessions on school hours.

In an emergency debate on Wednesday evening, Van Bijsterveldt reiterated that 1,040 hours of compulsory teaching would remain government policy but that schools could fill in 40 of those hours with extra-curricular activities. A majority of MPs backed the minister’s stand.
Van Bijsterveldt also said she plans to go ahead and fine 26 schools that have not met the target for teaching hours.
Schools have been required to give 1,040 hours of lessons for several years but the government has only recently taken steps to ensure this is enforced. Pupils are complaining that schools are now introducing fake lessons and homework classes to make up the time.
Laks wants the number of compulsory hours reduced to 960 and is calling for measures to improve the quality of education.
Friday’s demonstration is set to take place on Amsterdam’s Museumplein, where police used water cannon to break up a demonstration by pupils which got out of hand on Monday. Laks said on Thursday that they are taking steps to ensire tomorrow’s protest will be peaceful.
Christian Democrat MP Jan de Vries urged schoolchildren not to take part. ‘It is socially irresponsible to take such risks,’ he said. ‘Pupils belong in school, not on the Museumplein’.
More than 200 pupils were arrested during protests throughout the country on Monday.

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