The Dutch lifeboat association Reddingsbrigade is urging schools to bring back compulsory swimming lessons following several deaths by drowning this summer.
A 14-year-old boy became the latest victim this weekend. He drowned in the Maarsseveense lakes near Utrecht, bringing the total to 11 so far. In five cases, the victim could not swim.
‘The country’s swimming skills have been declining for years,’ the association’s director Raymond van Mourik told the Telegraaf. ‘And this has coincided with a rise in deaths.’
In particular, children from an ethnic minority background are less likely to be able to swim, the Telegraaf says, quoting a report by the Mulier Institute earlier this year.
Although parents are responsible for ensuring their children can swim, Van Mourik said the government also has a role. ‘This will save lives and possibly money,’ Van Mourik said.
Research in 2012 showed just four in 10 Dutch primary schools still offer swimming lessons as part of the regular curriculum.
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