Primary school teachers lose hope in government
A group of teachers are releasing 1,000 balloons in The Hague to express their disappoinment at the newly-announced education reforms.13 June 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - At four o'clock on Friday afternoon, 1,000 balloons will be released by Teachers in Action into the clouds above The Hague.
The balloons represent lost chances in the attempt to tackle the severe problems facing primary school education in the Netherlands. The action is supported by the Socialist Party in reaction to Labour Education Minister Ronald Plasterk's recently announced action plan.
Minister Plasterk's proposals to tackle the ever-increasing shortage of teachers and the alarming decline of the standard of reading among schoolchildren include an investment of EUR 1 one billion, of which EUR 800 million will be pumped directly into raising teachers' salaries.
The big snag is that the money is only fully available from 2020, as Finance Minister Wouter Bos, another Labour MP, was unwilling to dig into the state coffers to come to the education minister's assistance.
Socialist Party MP Jasper van Dijk severely criticises the merit pay system which will come into effect from 2014, meaning that automatic annual increments will stop and pay increases will be awarded by the schools.
Ronald Plasterk's action plan has also met with criticism from the Christian Democrats, Labour's ruling coalition partner together with the smaller Christian Union.
Jan Jacob van Dijk, the Christian Democrat spokesperson on education and himself a teacher at the VU University, claims that children are better off if they are taught by both men and women and calls for an increase in the number of male teachers in primary schools.
According to the CDA, the plan has failed to address the fundamental problem that the teaching profession no longer attracts men and says teaching training colleges need to change their curriculum.
Minister Plasterk argues that the number of men entering the profession will increase after proposed salary increases go into effect.
But for Teachers in Action, the message attached to the 1,000 balloons will be "All our hopes are blown away".
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]
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