School reform damaged standards: report

The Dutch educational system has been seriously neglected and educational reforms have led to a ‘worrying downward trend’ in subjects such as arithmetic and reading, a parliamentary commission said on Wednesday.

The reforms, introduced in the 1990s, were pushed through by a ‘circle of policy-makers’ who would not listen to criticism or warnings, the commission said.
The government, it added, had ‘seriously neglected’ its duty to provide proper education. The commission was set up last year to investigate the effect of reorganisations to the school system known as ‘new learning’.
The reforms focus on the educational process rather than the end results, requiring pupils to work largely independently in their final years at secondary school rather than follow formal lessons.
The commission, led by Labour MP Jeroen Dijsselbloem, warns that there is no scientific basis for this approach to education. Ministers should stick to determining the national curriculum, exams and supervision and leave the organising of lessons to schools themselves, the report says.
The report criticised the current government’s commitment to a 1,040 hour lesson quota for secondary education which many schools are currently campaigning against.
It also recommends the compulsory testing of all primary school pupils in their first and final years.
In addition secondary school pupils should be subject to tougher standards in their final year when they take national and internal exams for their leaving certificate, the commission says.

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