More money is urgently needed to provide language teaching to very young asylum seekers to prevent them trailing their Dutch peers, according to the primary school education council PO-Raad.
‘If we don’t invest in good education for these children, we are creating unnecessary disadvantages,’ chairwoman Rinda den Besten is quoted as saying by RTL news.
Currently, the schools which take in refugee children and local councils provide much of the funding.
The government will not provide more than one year’s extra funding per pupil, even though parliament has voted in favour of an extension to two. In addition, the government only provides funding if a school has at least four refugee children.
The PO-Raad says one year of language teaching is irresponsible because the children’s Dutch cannot be brought up to standard in one year. ‘Once you are behind, you can never catch up,’ Den Besten said. ‘[These children] will feel the disadvantages of this for the rest of their lives.’
Last year, 5,800 refugee children started at a Dutch primary school but this year the figure is expected to be up to 14,000.
Junior education minister Sander Dekker said in a reaction that he has no intention of increasing funding. ‘Young children pick up languages quickly and that is why this ruling is based on one year,’ he told news agency ANP. ‘If children need more support after that, there are other measures in place.’
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