Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 22 September 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.Princess Máxima appointed special UN advisor
De Telegraaf reports UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Princess Máxima, the wife of Crown Prince Willem Alexander, as his special advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development.
The princess is to dedicate herself to making financial services accessible to everyone. In many developing countries, it is still impossible for many people to open a bank account or take out insurance or a loan.
In the past few years, Princess Máxima has served as a member of a UN group of advisors on financial services and micro credits. She is due Tuesday to give a speech at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, a charity founded by former US president Bill Clinton.
The princess is the second member of the Dutch royal family to serve as an advisor to the UN secretary general. Her husband Crown Prince Willem Alexander was appointed chair of an advisory body on water and sanitation.
Parents can halt ‘white exodus’ in education
De Volkskrant writes parents are the driving force in the fight against segregation in primary education.
The paper says this has become clear from a survey among a large number of primary schools where parents’ efforts have been instrumental in bring children from a wide variety of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds together in one classroom.
More than one-third of Dutch primary schools are either too white or too black for the neighbourhood where they are located. However, an increasing number of parents are joining forces to halt the ‘white exodus’ to white schools by sending their children to black schools in groups of five to ten at a time.
The paper writes parents of at least 80 primary schools in 12 municipalities – including Amersfoort, Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Rotterdam – are working hard to ‘dilute’ black schools in mixed districts with their white children.
Four years ago, Barbara Schreuders sent her white children to the local all-black primary school with a group of like-minded parents in the Rotterdam district of Blijdorp.
“It’s hard work,” she said. However, the first three forms of the school now comprise a 50/50 mix of native and migrant children.
Anne-Mieke Bulters, the headmistress of a primary school in Amsterdam, said: “You can hire the services of an expensive PR company or design glossy brochures, but it’s pointless”.
However, she added that “If one parent sets an example, others are bound to follow”, citing the example of a parents’ initiative launched two years ago that resulted in the influx of white children.
A head teacher at two formerly all-black Rotterdam primary schools said that performance has improved since a parents’ initiative launched four years ago: “Children from highly-educated parents have a positive effect on the performance of children from low-educated parents”.
Bizarre crash at motorway petrol station
Both De Telegraaf and AD publish photographs of a bizarre incident at an Esso petrol station along the A27 motorway near the town of Meerkerk in the south of the country.
A motorist in a black Saab convertible drove his car at high speed into the petrol station and rammed a car at the pumps after which both cars crashed into the shop.
The driver of the Saab was seriously injured while the other driver was killed almost immediately. Five other people were also injured in the incident. It is not clear whether it was an accident.
AD writes journalists at the scene overheard detectives saying there were no skid marks, suggesting the driver of the Saab may have deliberately rammed the other car.
The photographs show the façade of the shop is completely devastated while the car that was crashed into was completely wrecked. The rear end of the other vehicle can still be identified as a Saab.
The petrol station’s owner, who was at home when she heard the news, said: “At this moment, I can only think of the good fortune that none of our employees was seriously injured. She lavished praise on shop assistant Erika, who, despite the panic, immediately pressed the emergency button to prevent any petrol leaking and then called 112.
The Esso oil company said it first needs to determine how the accident took place and whether it was a deliberate act, before it decides what action it should take.
Advisory body slams government's care cuts
In de Volkskrant, the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, or CPB, an important advisory body to the cabinet, has rejected cabinet plans for a EUR 1-billion-cut in health care as some of the intended cuts may actually lead to higher costs.
The CPB has analysed the effects of five measures announced as part of a raft of crisis measures by Health Minister Ab Klink in March.
Three measures, which are supposed to save EUR 1 billion, are liberalising the prices for a number of treatments in hospital, centralising the coordination of care for the chronically ill and streamlining hospital bureaucracy.
The minister believes that allowing hospitals to set the prices for half the treatments they provide – up from one-third of treatments at present - will save EUR 400 million.
However, the CPB said: “Available data does not show whether free negotiations lead to lower prices”.
The CPB also has its doubts about the descriptions of treatments on which the prices are based.
The bureau said the information in the current price list “was based on totally wrong criteria”, which in the past two years has led to huge increases in the salaries of medical specialists.
The minister also expects to save EUR 400 million by giving one care provider, usually the GP, overall control of all care provided to the chronically ill.
Klink wants this system of centralising coordinated care to be introduced for diabetes and heart failure patients.
However, the CPB said: “We cannot completely rule out that this measure will increase the costs of providing care”.
Finally, the minister wants to cut EUR 200 million by giving the board of governors more powers over medical specialists and other care providers. “A more streamlined hospital organisation will probably impact positively on the quality of the care provided, but it is not entirely certain whether it will also cut costs”.
Overwhelming response at Rotterdam's electric transport fair
AD reports that “Electrical motoring is the way of the future”.
Large numbers of businesses and organisations are present at the Ecomobiel fair, even though the market for electric transport is still in its infancy.
The paper writes that even if consumers are not asking for electric transport, the government will force it on them through subsidies and tax breaks.
On budget day, the cabinet announced it would invest an additional EUR 75 million in the development of electric driving.
Ecomobiel organiser Gerben Bierboom said: “We have had to turn down many prospective participants because there is simply not a square inch of space left at the fair.”
At present, sales figures of electric cars are still low and prices still high, but manufacturers and importers are clearly confident that this will change in the near future.
Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica