RNW Press Review, Friday 2 May 2008

2nd May 2008, Comments 0 comments

Catch the news in brief from the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

2 May 2008

Splendid time with the Royal Family
The Dutch newspapers return after a day off on Ascension Thursday to report on Wednesday's Queen's Day celebrations.

Each year the Dutch royal family visits two locations in a different part of The Netherlands, where the local authorities organise a programme of festivities.

This year, it was the turn of Makkum and Franeker in the northern province of Friesland to do the honours.

All of today's papers seem to agree that a good time was had by all. The Mayor of Franeker is in no doubt, according to NRC Handelsblad: "The Queen enjoyed herself. It was super!"

De Telegraaf crowns Beatrix "Queen of the Salsa" and features a front-page shot of her partaking in an impromptu two-step with a Bolivian singer who formed part of the street entertainment.

"Today I'm the happiest person in the world," enthused the lucky lady. "I hope to be able to sing for them again one day."

Queen’s Day set to change?
De Volkskrant comments that "a day of folklore is still a recipe for success", referring to the traditional games and activities that are a mainstay of the royal Queen's Day visits.

The younger princes and princesses in particular get roped into everything from tugs-of-war to clog sailing.

However, there is some talk of change. NRC Handelsblad reports that "Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima have been talking with their private secretaries for a couple of years about doing things differently on Queen's Day".

De Volksrant's advice is simple: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

As one commentator puts it "Queens Day has become part of Dutch popular culture ... if I was Willem-Alexander, I'd keep things as they are and only update the activities."

The paper makes the case for the status quo by quoting one happy pensioner who was able to shake hands with half of the royal family: "This could only happen in The Netherlands ... This just goes to show that we are one people and that the people love the royals."

Thumbs up for the education gurus
Most recent reports on education in the Dutch press have been bemoaning the drastic drop in standards but today de Volkskrant has good news for the education gurus.

Dutch industry is throwing its weight behind their ideas on "competency-based learning", which centre on the notion that you don't need to waste brainpower memorising facts when you could be learning how to look them up.

A spokesman for steel company Corus is convinced: "Pupils who have been taught using a competency-based approach have two major advantages: they are independent and practical. ... You used to have to lead them by the hand, but now they'll organise a football tournament for themselves if they want one."

While a researcher warns that "this new teaching method still has its teething troubles", the companies themselves see more pros than cons.

As one employer in the horticultural sector puts it "Now we can put youngsters to work from day one. We used to have to tie their hands behind their backs, so to speak: that's how ham-fisted they were. But not anymore."

A colleague agrees: "They know less ... but the new system encourages them to think for themselves."

Victory at last for Labour Party’s rising star
Good news at last for rising star of the Labour Party, Diederik Samsom. Having lost the battle to lead the parliamentary party to rival Mariëtte Hamer, Samsom has emerged triumphant in the National History Quiz, thereby gaining the dubious distinction of being the MP who has won the most TV game shows.

He previously emerged top of the celebrity pile in a National IQ Quiz.

"Samsom wins on evening of useless information" trumpets de Volkskrant, pointing out that the politician's victory was a narrow one.

His nearest rival was Annemiek van Leeuwen, a history buff by night and a cashier at the HEMA department store by day.
Despite the Dutch education system's efforts to focus more on "major historical themes" and "less on dates", the paper reports "trivia is what you need on an evening like this".

But jury member Maarten van Rossem is quick to point out that "useless knowledge is the greatest knowledge there is".

None of which seems to matter to the relieved winner Diederik Samsom, whose eyes remained firmly on the prize: "Losing twice in one week really would have been too much," he sighs.
[Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica]

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