Concern over cabinet education policies
Chairman Alexander Rinnooy Kan of the KIA, the Dutch Knowledge and Innovation Agenda says it's 'worrisome' that the cabinet led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte has not made any additional investments in education, research and innovation.
Mr Rinnooy Kan's remarks were prompted by a KIA report published today. Before, part of the country's natural gas revenues were invested in research and innovation. The fact that this is no longer the case really means the government has decided to make budget cuts in those fields.
The about 30 organisations represented in KIA want the Netherlands back in the top five knowledge economies and should not accept a position in the middle bracket. Mr Rinnooy Kan argues that despite the crisis there is ample justification for investing tax payers' money in 'excellent research'. "Only when our education and research remain at a high level will our country be able to compete with nations like for instance China and India and continue to prosper." Investments are also needed at the lower levels of education. "Students in vocational education who pass their exams have an easier time finding a job, which benefits the prosperity of the whole nation."
According to Rinnooy Kan, this does not mean that equal amounts of money should be invested in each sector of the knowledge economy. KIA believes, just like the government, that choices should be made for 'key sectors' such as food, chemistry, high-tech, water, flowers and creative industries.
And the chair of KIA says it does not always take huge amounts of money to make progress. A 'relatively small amount' spent on pre-school education - for instance language programmes for pre-schoolers - can yield big results. “It's a win-win situation. Children growing up in an underprivileged situation avoid language deficiencies, and parents can go to work knowing their child is in a quality day care centre."
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