Sunday 29 November 2020

Schools criticised for laptop demands and ‘voluntary’ contributions


An increasing number of Dutch secondary schools require pupils to have laptops even though this is not allowed in law, according to aid group Stichting Leergeld in Wednesday’s Volkskrant.

The foundation, which has 108 local branches, helped 127,000 children last year to pay for bikes, school trips, sport and cultural activities, but says more of its budget is now going on laptops and tablets for use in schools.

‘We do not want to pay for regular school equipment using money meant to combat poverty,’ director Gaby van den Biggelaar told the paper. ‘But more schools are breaking the rules and getting away with it.’

Secondary schools get some €300 per pupil to pay for teaching materials from central government but that does not include digital equipment.

‘If schools want to make the use of laptops compulsory, they have to pay for them,’ an education ministry spokeswoman told the paper. ‘As a point of principle, every pupil should be able to get an education without charge.’

Meanwhile in Amsterdam, education chief Marjolein Moorman has decided to stop subsidising seven schools which ask parents for over €225 a year in ‘voluntary’ contributions.


Although the contribution is voluntary, in may cases parents experience it differently, and requesting high contributions is contributing to inequality within the city’s education system, Moorman said.

Most of the schools which have lost their subsidies are in richer parts of Amsterdam Zuid.

John van der Woning, director of the Willemspark school, told the Parool that he is looking into taking legal action against the council. The extra money is used to pay for creative projects and specialist teachers, he said, ‘and that is exactly why parents choose our school’. The school has options for parents who cannot afford to pay, he said.

Most Amsterdam schools ask parents for no more than €90 a year, the Parool reported. The council cash is used to pay for special lessons or to give extra help to highly intelligent children and children who have recently arrived in the Netherlands.

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