Children with limited Dutch could start school earlier: minister


The government is looking into lowering the official age for starting school from five to four, and an introducing special pre-school classes for children with limited Dutch language skills, primary schools minister Mariëlle Paul has said.

Currently some 3% of children in the Netherlands do not start school at four, and that can put them at a disadvantage, Paul told RTL Nieuws.

“I want all children to start school with good language skills and that is often not the case, Paul said. “We often talk about equal opportunities but that starts by giving children the chance to learn what is needed and not spend their time at school having to catch up.”

There are two ways of tackling the problem, Paul said. Lowering the legal school age to four and making it obligatory for children who need it to attend pre-school at two and a half.

Paul is not afraid parents may not agree, she told RTL. “Many parents understand that is it for the good of the child and that going to school at four is fun for them and that they need that time to practice their language skills,” she said.

Paul is currently investigating both options. The results are expected by the end of this year but it will take a further two years for any change in the current system to become law.

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