Monday 22 July 2019

Teacher shortage: schools may scrap information sciences

Illustration: Depositphotos.com

A shortage of teachers is increasing pressure on schools to scrap information sciences in the last two years of secondary education, the Financieele Dagblad reports.

The number of schools offering information sciences as an exam subject has gone down from 300 to 260 schools, figures from government education agency DUO quoted by the paper show.

‘Social sciences is about more than programming alone,’ Amsterdam university lecturer Derk Pik told the FD. ‘It’s about social media, information processing, privacy and encryption. Every secondary school student needs to know the basics.’

Schools have had problems attracting information science teachers for a long time, and the problem has now been labelled ‘permanent’, with 23 full time jobs unfilled, a number that will go up to 96 in the next decade, according to recent research. If more schools wanted to include information sciences the number would be even higher.

Teacher training colleges are finding it impossible to hold on to graduates because they cannot compete with business.

‘Every company involved with information sciences wants them. We have three master students a year who are going into teaching and it’s not much better at other universities,’ the paper quotes Jan van der Meij of the University of Twente as saying.

Although initiatives are being developed to attract people from business into education, the problem is not going to go away, said professor of information sciences didactics Erik Barendsen of the Open University.

‘I’m seeing creative solutions where schools offer distance learning to their students but the coming years will be difficult. We can’t simply conjure up teachers out of thin air,’ he told the FD.

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