Wednesday 16 October 2019

Minister to withdraw funding from Islamic school if board does not change

The school is located in Amsterdam’s port area. Photo: Olivier Middendorp via HH

Education minister Arie Slob has announced that he will stop funding to the Cornelius Haga Lyceum, an Islamic middle school in Amsterdam, if the current board remains in place.

Slob announced that only a new school management can ‘put the educational quality, operational management and finances in order’ after a critical report from school inspectors was made public.

This report said that the current board’s ‘policy and management is damaging for the foundation, the school and the pupils because it will not distance itself from people with a controversial reputation when it comes to promoting citizenship’ and criticised financial misconduct among senior staff.

‘All pupils deserve good education, regardless of what school they are at’ said Slob in a statement. ‘There is maladministration at the Cornelius Haga Lyceum, and in addition, directors do too little to promote citizenship at the school. This is why we need a new board.’

If this new management is not announced within the first few weeks of the next school year, he said, public finance would be withdrawn.

However, he told the NOS broadcaster that the crackdown was unrelated to the fact that it is one of the Netherlands’ two Islamic middle schools, saying that a protestant or non-faith school would be treated just the same if it did not follow the law.

The Haga Lyceum has been the focus of long-running controversy about its connections with Islamic preachers, including British imam Haitham al-Haddad, who has been criticised for his views on Jews, homosexuality and female genital mutilation. Earlier this year, the AIVD briefed Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema that it was being influenced by ‘undemocratic groups’, prompting her to freeze funding.

The school has taken a combative approach, trying to block publication of the last inspection report through the courts and announcing that a former PVV politician would become interim director as an April Fool’s joke. It has always denied being influenced by radical elements, and the inspectors’ report found no evidence that it was indoctrinating pupils along Salafist lines.

It has not yet responded to Slob’s statement.

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