Integration minister Rita Verdonk is now turning her attention to education. This weekend, Verdonk, number two on the VVD (Liberal) list of prospective MPs, chaired the discussions at her party’s education conference.
‘I’ve been busy with something else for the past three years, but education is a powerful theme that you also need to tackle by rolling up your shirt sleeves,’ the Financieele Dagblad quoted her as saying.
Verdonk has made no secret that she would like the job of education minister in the next cabinet. And perhaps, with her experience of integration issues, it could be exactly the right place for her. She is bound to have interesting ideas on how to tackle the increasing apartheid in inner city schools.
Parental choice in these neighbourhoods means white children go to white schools and hardly ever come into contact with anyone from a different background.
It would be interesting to know what Verdonk would say to the middle class parents who send their not-so-academic children to school in other towns entirely to avoid them being in the white minority even at schools with excellent reputations.
Will she support the right of Islamic parents to send their children to Islamic schools, as Catholics, orthodox Protestants and Jews are able to do?
If there is one area of Dutch society where we really need an integration minister, it is education.