Amsterdam’s new Islamic high school opens with fewer than 50 pupils

Lessons began at Amsterdam’s controversial new Islamic secondary school on Tuesday but there were no more than 50 pupils, broadcaster RTL said.

That is well down on the 186 pupils which the school authorities had expected and which was used by the education ministry to base the school’s funding on, RTL said.

Both the city council and education minister Sander Dekker had tried to prevent the school from opening but lost their legal battle during the summer. A number of Amsterdam’s Islamic primary schools also urged parents not to send their children to the school because of the board’s lack of experience in education.

The Netherlands has 53 Islamic primary schools but just two at secondary level, the new Cornelis Hage Lyceum in Amsterdam and the Avicenna College in Rotterdam. Another high school in Amsterdam was closed down in 2011 because of poor standards.

State-funded faith schools are sanctioned in the Netherlands under freedom of education rules, if they have sufficient pupils and meet the proper standards.