1.9 million people in NL can’t pass simplest Dutch language school test
Some 1.9 million people in the Netherlands do not speak Dutch sufficiently well to pass the lowest high school leaving exam, according to a new report by the government audit office.
An additional 600,000 people cannot do simple arithmetic, taking the total number of people considered ‘illiterate’ to 2.5 million, including a large number of pensioners, the audit office said.
The figure includes everyone who lives in the Netherlands and does not speak enough Dutch, including well-educated internationals. Some 55% of those considered illiterate are native Dutch, the audit office said.
Government initiatives to increase literacy are targeting 45,000 people between now and 2018, but this is just 4.6% of the people who need help, the audit audience said. It also criticised the government’s refusal to put funds into boosting computer literacy.
Education minister Jet Bussemaker said in a reaction that the situation is a serious social problem but that she is unable to do more, even if more funds were available. The audit office disputes this, pointing out that there are waiting lists for language lessons in some areas.
‘The seriousness of the problem has been underestimated,’ Marja van Bijsterveld, chairman of the audit office supervisory board, told the NRC. ‘One in nine people has difficulty buying a train ticket from a ticket machine.’ Without a change in policy, the situation is only likely to worsen, she said.
Earlier on Wednesday, primary school heads warned that the government is failing to allocate sufficient funds to teaching Dutch to refugee children.