Dutch news in brief, Friday 5 December 2008

5th December 2008, Comments 0 comments

Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

Dutch school system up for a revamp?
Dutch Education Minister Ronald Plasterk has tentatively opened the debate on reforming the Dutch school system, reports de Volkskrant.

At the age of 11, Dutch children have to choose which kind of secondary school they want to attend. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says 11 years old is too young for children to make such an important decision.  

In an interview with the paper, the minister said: "That's too strong a signal to ignore". The current system also makes it difficult for children with an ethnic background to go on to further education.
The Netherlands is the only industralised country to subject all 11-year-old children to selection of secondary schools according to their academic ability.

Nevertheless, the minister denies he is planning any changes during this cabinet term. Education has been subjected to many reforms under successive governments and any suggestion of an overhaul is taboo.

"This is just a first step to putting something on the agenda," said Plasterk.
Children's Peace Prize goes to young Brazilian
De Telegraaf prints a photo of Bishop Tutu with this year's Children's Peace Prize winner in The Hague. Brazilian Mayra Avellar Neves, 17, is in tears as she listens to last year's winner. AD shows a picture of the same two laughing out loud.
At the age of 15, Avellar Neves organised a march in protest of the violence that kills thousands of children in the slums of Rio de Janeiro every year. The march brought an end to armed police patrols around schools.
The Children's Peace Prize was launched in 2005 in Rome during a meeting of Nobel Prize winners.

Inflammatory website receives state funds
The new Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan is shocked by the content of a website that receives government subsidies, writes AD. On the forum of marokko.nl, there are texts applauding the death of Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan, equating soldiers to criminals, glorifying the Mumbai attacks and inciting people to murder homosexuals.
The minister has launched an investigation into why the site's moderators are unable to filter the reactions adequately.

Khalid Mahdaoui, one of the site's founders said it's impossible to check all 50,000 daily reactions. "One or two slip through the net, but that does not mean we back them."

Animal asylum faces possible closure
It could be a dismal Christmas for an animal sanctuary in the town of Laarbeek. The sanctuary which houses 900 animals has been ordered to close down within two weeks because its existence does not tally with a local council planning order.

The cats and dogs in the sanctuary are mostly sick, aged and unwanted. The sanctuary is run by 30 volunteers and has 800 donors.

Studies show there is no smell and noise nuisance, but the judge was unrelenting and has imposed a penalty of EUR 75,000 if the asylum's owners fail to comply.

The local council, however, is showing a little more charity: "I can't say whether the fine will be collected or if it will come to an eviction."

Sinterklaas fever hits at home and abroad
The joyful evening of Sinterklaas has arrived in and out of the Netherlands.

De Telegraaf reports on Sinterklaas’ visit to Dutch troops in Uruzgan where he surprised the Slovakian troops guarding camp Holland in Tarin Kowt as he arrived on camelback in full bishops' regalia with a troop of Zwarte Piet.
In the Netherlands, the saint remains popular with youths.  According to a survey, 60 percent of 10 to 21 year-olds will participate in the tradition of exchanging rhymes and presents this year.

The economic crisis hasn't managed to subdue the festive spirit or even dent sales this year. In the past three weeks EUR 170.3 million have been spent on purchasing presents on the internet, reports de Volkskrant.
On a sad note, De Telegraaf prints the last cartoon by its cartoonist Fritz Behrendt, who died on Thursday. The cartoon showed Zwarte Piet, who is in his underwear, handing his costume back to Sinterklaas. The caption read: Sorry Saint, but it didn't fit Obama.
[Radio Netherlands / Nicola Chadwick / Expatica]

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