There are so many children of expats and ‘knowledge migrants’ attending Dutch schools in Amstelveen that ‘soon there will be hardly any Dutch-speaking children in the class’, the Parool reported on Monday.
The paper says in 2008, 500 newcomers moved to the Amsterdam metropolitan region, but this has now soared to 13,000 a year. And the popularity of Amstelveen as a place to live means that local schools are being overwhelmed with expat children.
Today’s expats, the paper states, do not earn enough to send their children to expensive private schools, and that means relying on the state system.
The paper quoted Frans Cornet, head of the Amstelwijs school group in Amstelveen who told online magazine Naar School: ‘We are doing our best to absorb these children but we don’t have the resources… but we need to have a teaching assistant to help the children, who often don’t speak Dutch and sometimes not even English.’
Although the city council has made money available to give the children of newcomers a year’s intensive language lessons, this is not enough to meet demand, so children from India, Japan and the US are being put in regular classes, the Parool said.
Amstelveen council is now holding meetings with local schools every two months to try to solve the problems. There are also plans to set up a state-funded international school in Amstelveen in 2019.
Research by the International Community Advisory Panel last year found that over seven in 10 expats moving to the Amsterdam area get no help with paying for their children to attend international schools, where the fees are upwards of €15,000 a year.
Around half the parents in the ICAP survey send their children to Dutch schools and seven in 10 parents are happy or very happy with the quality of their children’s education.
Dutch government policy currently focuses on investing in creating additional international school places in Amsterdam and The Hague but moves are also being made to make Dutch schools more ‘international’ as well.
‘While the decision-makers at multinationals will benefit from spending on international schools, we also believe there are enormous gains to be made if the government invested properly in helping the children of new arrivals integrate into the Dutch school system,’ said Deborah Valentine, director of voluntary organisation ACCESS and a member of the ICAP board.
Frans Cornet declined to comment to DutchNews.nl.
Update, April 20: A spokeswoman for Amstelveen city council told DutchNews.nl officials were very surprised by the Parool story. There are no classes with just one or two native Dutch children, she said, and although Amstelveen has a relatively large proportion of international children, officials are working hard to find a solution.
The council has now doubled the number of special classes for newcomers from three to six and teachers are being given extra help to deal with non-Dutch speaking children and cultural differences.