RNW Press Review - 14 February 2008

14th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

A roundup of today's press by Radio Netherlands.

RNW Press Review - 14 February 2008 - by Georg Schreuder Hess

The main story on the front pages of today's Dutch newspapers is the failure of 20 years worth of educational reforms, or, as de Volkskrant puts it: "An interfering government and insistent politicians proved to be disastrous for the quality of education."

A report published today, that was created by a parliamentary commission to evaluate the educational reforms of the past two decades, concludes that the main objective, higher educational standards, has not been accomplished. Trouw summarises the report's conclusions as "the disastrous role of politics", while De Telegraaf demands to "get politics out of the classroom”.

In an editorial, de Volkskrant writes that "the reconstruction of education can now begin". The paper says that the commission's report means that the concerns of parents, students, business and social institutions about the deteriorating quality of education have finally got through to the heart of the political machinery. "Quality in education is - for the first time in decades - back at the top of the political agenda."

Informal Muslim marriages
Today's Trouw has a report on the growing popularity among Dutch Muslims of informal "backroom" marriages. The paper writes that informal, short-term marriages are nothing new in Islam. The so-called Urf marriages are often concluded to lend an air of legitimacy to a short-term sexual relationship or sometimes to avoid the expense of an official marriage.

However, the Dutch intelligence service AIVD is concerned that extremists use these marriages to tie young woman to their movements. The AIVD regards these backroom marriages as possible signs of radicalisation, also because most of the women involved were "very young and often converts".

Dutch scientist Martijn de Koning, who conducts research among Dutch women of Moroccan descent, says he knows of two women who consciously decided for an informal wedding. "One of them to bring an Egyptian brother to the Netherlands, the other because she wanted to get married according to Islamic Sharia law only. Which, according to Trouw, is exactly what worries the AIVD.

Fundamentalist Muslims reportedly only recognise Sharia law. By refusing to engage in a formal marriage under Dutch law, they are allegedly creating a shadow society in the Netherlands.

Loitering allowed

De Volkskrant reports that a court in the city of Utrecht has ruled that the loitering ban for youths that was recently introduced in one of the city's slum districts is illegal. On Wednesday, the judge acquitted a group of seven youths who were charged with violating the ban.

The ruling is a major setback for the council, the police and the Public Prosecutors Office which has announced it will appeal against the verdict. Utrecht Mayor Aleid Wolfsen says that "this group of youths poses such a threat that we must be able to take action".

The paper writes that crime statistics provided by the city council show that the measure has resulted in a decrease in crime in the district, but the judge ruled that however big the problems might be, you cannot convict people simply for standing in the street.

No applause
Today's Trouw has a report on the new collective labour agreement for police officers. After months of protests and strikes, the police unions and Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst have reached agreement, even though nobody is really enthusiastic about the deal, or, as Trouw puts it: "No applause for new police Collective Labour Agreement."

The new agreement includes a 3.5 percent pay rise as of 1 February, followed by a 3.3 percent pay rise on 1 January 2009. The salary increases are pretty much what the unions demanded, but they are still unhappy about their secondary working conditions.

A spokesperson for one of the police unions says that officers receive only a fraction of the irregular hours allowances paid to workers in trade and industry. However, the spokesperson added that "if our members reject this deal, I can't guarantee them something better anytime soon."

Will you be my Valentine?
On its front page, AD has a big picture of two women and a man; one of the women is holding a bunch of roses, the other a big red heart. The caption reads: "AD is looking for Valentines for Claudette, Louis and Geertje. The three are fed up with being single.

Claudette says she wants to "awaken the butterflies in my stomach". This year, together with AD, they will go looking for their ideal man or woman. AD will provide flirting and speed dating classes and coaching by a relations expert. The paper will, as you may have already suspected, publish reports, diaries and videos about their experiences.

[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]

Subject: Dutch news 

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