Dutch integration targets off the mark
Integration minister wants all obligated immigrants to receive an offer for integration courses as quickly as possible.
The Hague – Participation in obligatory integration courses has fallen far short of expectations, the ministry of housing, spatial planning and the environment (VROM) announced Tuesday.
Up to and including the month of July, 20,000 immigrants registered for integration courses in 2009. If the trend continues, the ministry projects 35,000 people will attend courses this year.
"That contrasts with the 50,000 that we anticipated this year," said integration minister Eberhard van der Laan.
The ministry forecasted that number of participants would increase to 60,000 in 2010.
In a September letter to municipalities, van der Laan will propose new measures to assist immigrants attend immigration courses, including employer participation. For example, employers could buy a custom integration package for immigrant employees.
In addition, Van der Laan wants all obligated immigrants to receive an offer for integration courses from the municipality as quickly as possible.
If the municipalities reach out to more immigrants, additional money from the national government will be available to them. The ministry will require that the money be returned if the cities do not make their targets, Van der Laan said in letter to lower house of parliament.
The government has set aside EUR 460 million on top of the EUR 260 million available each year for integration purposes.
Of the 52 largest municipalities in the Netherlands, 13 are on schedule to meet their integration course requirements, including Breda, Tilburg, Den Bosch, Enschede, Hengelo, Lelystad, Maastricht, Sittard-Geleen, Zaanstad, Alphen a/d Rijn, Hilversum, Roermond, and Spijkenisse.
These 52 larger municipalities are responsible for 75 percent of the national participation target.
The integration course system was set up to prevent newcomers from remaining isolated from Dutch society and help them become familiar with rules and customs in the country.
Radio Netherlands / Expatica