Safety in numbers

Amsterdam city council is taking the issue of truancy – or what the Parool newspaper calls ‘luxury absenteeism’ – very seriously this summer.

It is sending special truancy officers to monitor the comings and goings at Schiphol airport to make sure no-one who should be at school is leaving on an early holiday.
Parents should not be attempting to take advantage of cheaper package deals outside the official school break, says the council. And parents found attempting to sneak their children onto planes will be fined. In some cases, the children may even be sent back to school.
The city says it is taking the action at the request of schools – which is quite bizarre when you consider that most schools seem to close down days if not weeks ahead of the official break because there is nothing left for the children to do.
But the city’s education boss Lodewijk Asscher is certainly determined to do his bit to reduce absenteeism.
He has also given his backing to a bizarre project in the Amsterdam borough of De Baarsjes in which youths aged up to 23 are being approached by truancy officers, asked to show their ID cards and told to explain why they are not at college or at work. Then their college or employer is phoned to make sure.
Doubtless this surge in truancy officer numbers is one reason why Amsterdam has 20 civil servants per 1,000 head of the population, more than double the national average.

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