Tuesday 29 November 2022

Schools struggle with government citizenship lesson demands

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Dutch schools are struggling with increasing government demands about lessons in good citizenship which some say infringe on the right to freedom of education, the Volkskrant said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, school inspectors published a new report criticising the approach to lessons about Dutch norms and values. In particular, there is no clear aim to the course and some subjects, such as homosexuality, are difficult to raise in some schools, the inspectors say.

Currently, schools are allowed to deal with such subjects in their own way but education ministers Jet Bussemaker and Sander Dekker want to introduce legislation setting down which ‘key values’ schools should impress upon their pupils.

Schools have been required to teach ‘active citizenship and social integration’ since 2006 and often base this around specific themes, such as Remembrance Day.

But inspectors say the standard of teaching must be improved and ministers say it is more important than ever to be ‘completely clear’ about key Dutch values.

Teachers are less keen. ‘Our education system is so powerful because we have freedom of education in the Netherlands,’ Paul Rosenmoller, head of the secondary schools association VO-raad, told the paper.

Society’s problems

In addition, all sorts of problems in society are being dumped on teachers, Rosenmoller said. ‘Teachers cannot solve everything,’ he added.

Other studies have shown some teachers find it difficult to raise some subjects in class, such as the fall out from the failed coup in Turkey or homosexuality.

‘It is very important that we are allowed to decide how to deal with these subjects ourselves,’ said Hans Huizer, head of the Johan de Witt school group in The Hague. ‘We have to deal with different problems to schools in rural areas.’

Religious schools

The Netherlands has a large number of religious schools, most of which are based on various forms of Protestantism.

In particular, the Netherlands has dozens of fundamentalist Christian schools which oppose homosexuality on Biblical principles and use a legal loophole to avoid employing gay teachers.

The Netherlands also has some 30 Islamic primary schools and one Islamic secondary in Rotterdam.

Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl

The DutchNews.nl team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments.

DutchNews.nl has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.