Primary schools are structurally refusing to accept children with an ethnic minority background because of fears they may drive down test scores, experts from multicultural institute Forum say in Friday’s Trouw.
Schools fear that children who don’t speak Dutch as a first language or who are ‘behind’ in other ways may have a negative impact on the school’s Cito score, Forum says. Most primary school children take exams known as the Cito in their final year. The results are used to determine school performance.
In addition, schools are worried about becoming classified as ‘too black’ and therefore unpopular with white parents, starting a negative downwards spiral, Forum told Trouw.
‘This is not good for integration and we will end up with parallel societies,’ Forum says.
The research was carried out by the Nijmegen-based KBA bureau and involved interviews with dozens of parents plus 12 school heads and civil servants, Trouw said.
Although it was a small research project, complaints about discrimination are 25 years old, Forum’s education expert Zeki Arslan told the paper.
‘In this research, education professionals also acknowledge it happens on a structural basis,’ Arslan said. ‘And this in a country where we have freedom of educational choice… I hope this small survey will lead the minister to set up a major research project.
School board association PO-Raad supports Forum’s position. ‘We hear these signals as well,’ a spokesman said. ‘And if it is happening, it is unacceptable.’
Some 12% of Dutch primary schools have more than 50% ethnic-minority pupils. Parents of children with a minority background who try to register their children at white schools hit a variety of obstacles, Trouw said.
These range from simply feeling unwelcome to long waiting lists. In some cases they are referred to a more mixed school ‘where there is more experience with language disadvantage’, Trouw said.
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