School demos continue, riot police used

Riot police broke up a demonstration by up to 2,000 Amsterdam school pupils on Monday as protests over school hours continued.

Several teenagers were arrested as pupils threw eggs and rubbish bags, over-turned bicycles and smashed car windows around the Museumplein area. ‘A lot of people just turned up looking for trouble,’ one eyewitness said. ‘It was pretty grim’.
Police were also called in to break up demonstrations in Hilversum and Breda, NOS news reported. In Amersfoort, train services were delayed as children gathered at the main railway station.
In the Hague, several hundred teenagers stood outside the parliament building and threw eggs. There were also noisy demonstrations in Eindhoven, Middelburg, Almere, Dordrecht and Bussum, news agency ANP reported.
In Friesland, where around 100 schools were involved, the protests were peaceful, ANP said.
School pupils union Laks had called on students to stay in school on Monday, ahead of Wednesday’s parliamentary debate on teaching hours. On Friday, some 20 people were arrested in spontaneous walk-outs by pupils round the country.
On Sunday, the education ministry announced schools are to be given more flexibility about how they fill in 40 of the 1,040 compulsory hours of lessons for secondary school pupils.
The 40 hour concession is ‘very positive’ but ‘not nearly enough’, said chairman Sywert van Lienden. Laks plans to organise a demonstration in The Hague if its demands for a further reduction in hours are not met.
The move is a ‘considerable lightening of the load on both schools and pupils,’ said Sjoerd Slagter, chairman of the education council VO-Raad.
In addition, schools are to be given more money to replace sick teachers. Absenteeism is the main reason why schools often don’t meet the 1,040-hour target.
According to the schools inspectorate, only one in 15 schools actually gives pupils enough teaching time. The education minister plans to fine schools which don’t make the grade.

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