The integration of immigrants into Dutch society is improving but segregation is increasing in some neighbourhoods and in schools, integration minister Eberhard van der Laan told MPs on Tuesday.
Students with an ethnic minority background have made enormous strides in higher education, the unemployment rate under minorities has gone down from 20% to 10% over the past decade and some 40,000 new business have been created by minority entrepreneurs, Van der Laan said.
Nevertheless, a number of measures must be taken to ease the current problems, the minister told MPs at the presentation of the government’s latest integration policy document.
Integration means making a positive choice to live in the Netherlands, Van der Laan said. This means taking citizenship courses, participating, making the most of opportunities and creating your own. ‘You come here and you must make your future here a success. You have to choose to participate,’ he said.
Throughout his speech and the accompanying documents, Van der Laan used the words nieuwe (new) Nederlanders to describe immigrants, rather than the more usual term allochtoon (alien). ‘Using allochtoon refers to your origins. Nieuwe Nederlander shows you belong in the Netherlands,’ he told Nos tv later.
The minister outlined a number of measures the cabinet is planning to take. More effort will be made to get older immigrants to take integration courses. And the problems both facing and caused by young men with a Moroccan or Antillean background will get special focus.
In education, efforts will be made to decrease segregation in schools, by using double waiting lists, changing registration procedures and better information for parents.
The minister also pledged to take steps to boost the integration of workers from central and eastern Europe, such as offering language courses through employers. There will also be a beginning made on ‘research into the possible introduction of compulsory integration courses within the European Union’, the policy document said.
‘A discussion about integration and good citizenship is of great importance for support for the free movement [of people], the policy document said.
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