Village schools are closing as pupil numbers shrink

children playgroundAround one in four Dutch towns and villages have no school as falling pupil numbers force rural school closures, the AD says on Monday.

There are 2,400 official towns and villages in the Netherlands, of which 630 no longer have a school, the paper says.

The problem is most acute in the northern province of Friesland, where 185 villages have no school. Villages with fewer than 500 residents are the most likely to see their school close, the paper says.

The average distance from home to primary school used to be just under one kilometre but has now stretched to 3.4 kilometres, meaning young children can no longer cycle on their own.

‘In addition, parents have a right to choose a school which fits in with their belief systems,’ said Rinda den Besten, chairwoman of the primary schools’ association PO-Raad. ‘We need to make sure there are schools to choose from.’

In addition, village schools have an important function as a meeting place in rural areas, locals say. ‘Closing a school tears the heart out of a community,’ Christian Democrat MP Michel Rog told the paper.

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