Dutch municipalities and education associations have called on the ministry of education to bring the country’s school buildings up to code by 2050.
In a joint letter to outgoing minister of education Mariëlle Paul, the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG), the PO Council (primary education) and the VO Council (secondary education) said the renovation of school buildings must be placed “high on the list of priorities” after years of patchwork fixes that haven’t addressed the larger problems of the nation’s decaying educational facilities.
“This is the only way to create a healthy indoor climate in all school buildings, and we can make school buildings more sustainable and make them suitable for inclusive and modern education,” the letter states. “Only in this way can we invest in pleasant, fresh and contemporary buildings that make a positive contribution to learning performance and the well-being of pupils.”
They blame part of the problem on short-term fixes that have neglected the long-term remedies they say are needed. “It concerns school buildings that are up to 72 years old, where we only stick plasters within this approach (patches that municipalities and school boards may pay themselves).”
Spokesman Thijs den Otter of the PO council told Dutch News that many of the country’s schools have been written off for years but have yet to be renovated or replaced. “In 2019, a report from the central government calculated that the state underinvests €730 million annually in the buildings of our primary and secondary education,” he said. “We are of course trying to change that, because students and teaching staff spend whole days in buildings that do not meet the requirements.”
The letter writers estimate that €1.2 billion per year is necessary to renovate the country’s schools.
The letter points to an incident in a Rotterdam school last May when a piece of concrete fell from the school’s ceiling. Although no one was hurt, “this incident underlines the urgency and necessity of the renewal of the school buildings, and the potentially dramatic, immediate consequences of further delays,” the associations say.
Last week, over 100 schools in the UK closed to check for concrete rot following the use of RAAC, a weak concrete has been widely used in construction since the 1950s. Den Otter says investigations are underway in the Netherlands to see if RAAC concrete has been used here.
But the current problems seen with the concrete in Dutch buildings, he says, come from a different kind of composite material: MUWI concrete. “It’s from the same period and there are problems with fractures,” he says. “The extent of these problems is currently being investigated.”
Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.
We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.Make a donation