Sunday 26 January 2020

Sharp rise in children at Islamic primary schools, but total is still tiny

Photo: Nasa

The number of pupils attending Islamic primary schools has soared 60% over the past 10 years, according to education ministry figures obtained by the Volkskrant.

In total, 15,000 plus Muslim under-12-year-olds are attending an Islamic faith school, compared with 9,300 in 2018. Nevertheless, there are just 54 Islamic schools in the Netherlands, accounting for a tiny proportion of the 6,700 primary schools nationwide.

The Dutch constitution gives people the right to set up a school on the basis of a religion or other personal convictions, if they can prove enough people would attend.

Local councils assess the applications and the schools are financed by the state. Since 2014 there have been 17 applications to set up Islamic primary schools, of which 15 have ultimately been successful, some after appeals to the Supreme Court.

However, there have been moves to change this in recent years because of concerns some Islamic schools are indoctrinating their pupils with anti-Western views.

The call was recently renewed following the controversy surrounding the Haga Lyceum in Amsterdam, one of just two Islamic secondary schools in the Netherlands.

The school has been the focus of long-running controversy about its connections with radical Islamic preachers and earlier this year, the AIVD security service told Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema that it was being influenced by ‘undemocratic groups’, prompting her to freeze funding.

However, the security service watchdog said last week that the AIVD report had presented statements as fact which had not been properly substantiated.

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