Limited reforms for 'failed' VMBO schools

11th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven rejected calls on Monday for radical reform of the much-criticised VMBO pre-vocational secondary education system. But she is willing to afford schools more autonomy in 2006 to determine the form of education they offer.

11 April 2005

AMSTERDAM — Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven rejected calls on Monday for radical reform of the much-criticised VMBO pre-vocational secondary education system. But she is willing to afford schools more autonomy in 2006 to determine the form of education they offer.

Various proposals have been unveiled recently to reform the VMBO system because of claims the system is not performing adequately.

Despite the fact that she rejected calls for fundamental change, Van der Hoeven told MPs on Monday that lessons should be better geared towards students, continuing education and the business sector.

Exams might be given earlier to some students or a longer exam period might be offered to prevent students from dropping out. Students with problems or those who require extra attention can be given lessons in a separate class.

Van der Hoeven also said VMBO students should more quickly apply the theory they learn at school. This means they will work with their hands much earlier than is presently the case.

"VMBO students learn too much from books in car engineering lessons. You need to start tinkering with a car and then go and see what theory you need," she said.

Van der Hoeven also said an improved flow of students to MBO upper secondary vocational education should be stimulated. Currently, VMBO students complain that there are poor links with MBO education and they prematurely end their studies or end up in a lower-than-desired level.

Ten VMBO and MBO schools will now experiment with a joint education programme in which students can opt to move from one school to the other.

Van der Hoeven rejected a Christian Democrat CDA and Labour PvdA proposal to set up separate training courses for VMBO teachers. But she said teacher training should include a greater amount of complementary studies for vocational education.

She also refused to implement a proposal to extend compulsory education to the age of 23. Councils should, however, more often refuse jobless benefits to school drop-outs.

The minister will inject EUR 100 million next year to renovate school buildings, as agreed on in the Easter coalition government accord signed by the CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66.

The accord — at the insistence of the D66 — set up a one-off funding boost to education of EUR 500 million.

The VMBO system was established in 1999, by merging the MAVO and VBO secondary school systems. The aim was to reduce the enrolment of students with learning or behavioural problems in individual and special education systems.

But the VMBO system has attracted sharp criticism since its introduction. Research has revealed that 20 percent of students cannot cope with the education demands. A large number of students with problems are leaving school early.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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