Over 200,000 secondary school pupils begin their leaving exams on Wednesday as the three-week examination period opens.
The start of the school exams coincides with an investigation by the Volkskrant and school inspectors into the use of private tutors and cramming classes to prepare pupils.
The paper says tens of thousands of pupils are sent on expensive courses offered by commercial companies and that this risks increasing the educational divide between haves and have-nots even further.
The courses have become a key part of the ‘shadow education circuit’ which is only open to richer pupils, the paper says. At the same time, however, some schools are also offering extra lessons to boost pupil performance. One in five schools also asks extra cash to pay for the courses.
Most pupils take the special classes in one or two subjects which they fear they may fail or which they need to improve in order to be admitted to their chosen university degree course.
Of the 213,000 taking school finals this year, almost 60,000 are in pre-college (havo) and 40,000 in pre-university (vwo) streams. The rest are taking theoretical or practical exams at trade schools (vmbo).
The exam results will be published on June 14, with resits from June 19 to June 22.
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