Compulsory Turkish lessons abandoned
11 November 2003 , AMSTERDAM - Despite ministerial approval, a Utrecht secondary school has abandoned plans to obligate first-year students to study the Turkish language due to a lack of funding.
11 November 2003
AMSTERDAM - Despite ministerial approval, a Utrecht secondary school has abandoned plans to obligate first-year students to study the Turkish language due to a lack of funding.
But the school director, Ton van Vught, said in the television current affairs programme Nova on Monday night that Turkish will now be offered as an optional subject, an NOS news report said.
Students will be allowed to choose from three elective modern languages, Turkish, German and French. Students must study two electives, while English will remain compulsory. Dutch is a compulsory element also.
The Roman Catholic school's proposal to make Turkish lessons compulsory drew sharp parliamentary criticism over the weekend. Governing coalition parties Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 opposed to the plan.
But Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven said on Monday the school was allowed to introduce compulsory Turkish lessons in the first year because legislation allowed individual schools to offer their own courses. If parents approved, no other impediments stood in the school's way, she said.
Despite the go-ahead, Van Vught said the St. Gerardus Majella school — a VMBO pre-vocational secondary school — decided against the compulsory lessons due to financial reasons. He said the school could not guarantee course continuity.
The director also said the proposal — which was recently reported on in the magazine Levende Talen (Living Languages) — had been made public before its feasibility had been fully investigated.
The school was investigating offering compulsory Turkish lessons due to an influx of Turkish students after the recent closure of two schools. Migrants already make up about half of the school's student numbers, Dutch associated press ANP reported.
Van Vught said the change of plan had nothing to do with the 1,500 protest emails sent to the school, many of which originated from the right-wing movement Nieuw Rechts (New Right) of Rotterdam resident Michiel Smit.
A parliamentary majority had also stood opposed to the plan, with the Christian Democrat CDA questioning why the Netherlands should make the study of the Turkish language compulsory.
Governing coalition parties Democrat D66 and Liberal VVD said students of Turkish ancestry who already have language problems are more expressive with extra Dutch lessons.
The Education Inspectorate was also hesitant about the plan, indicating that the language demands placed on first-year secondary students would be too severe.
But Van Vught dismissed the inspectorate's concerns and said students are already asking when they can study Turkish and Arabic, which the school also hopes to offer in the future. He also denied talk that offering the languages would hinder integration.
Education union AOb did not wish to interfere with a school's course policy, while union Onderwijsbond CNV said Turkish would simply be a normal modern language on offer should the Islamic country be granted entry into the EU.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news