RNW Press Review - Wednesday 13 February 2008

13th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

A roundup of today's press by Radio Netherlands.

RNW Press Review - Wednesday 13 February 2008 - by Jacqueline Carver

Education is a hot topic in the Netherlands at the moment and AD opens with the shocking news that universities are giving remedial Dutch lessons to first-year students. Lest there be any confusion, we are talking about native Dutch speakers here. The paper writes that thousands of first-year students at universities and colleges across the country will be required to take tests to measure their language and mathematics skills and that those who fail will be required to take remedial lessons and re-sit the exam until they pass it.

More than 25 percent of the first years at Amsterdam's Free University failed the language test, and almost 95 percent of first-year students at the University of Twente failed the mathematics test. Almost 50 percent of the law students at another university failed the maths exam as well.

* Reedin an rightin

Education experts say Dutch high schools do not sufficiently prepare their students for university-level courses, and blame the poor results on the changes to the education system. A parliamentary commission investigating the achievements wrought by innovations to the education system will present its report later today.

The Free University has already announced that it will be offering extra courses, and that the institution adheres to strict requirements when it comes to language skills. The university's rector says, "Those students who fail to meet the requirements will be offered remedial courses. It's not a choice, the courses are mandatory."

* Piggybank

NRC.next writes that over the last year, the Dutch have caused something of an earthquake on the savings account market. Under the headline "shares are out and saving are in", the paper writes that fears about the stability of the stock market and the plummeting value of shares led the Dutch to deposit 40 billion euros into long-term, fixed-interest savings accounts last year.

The mass movement towards long-term saving accounts has also sparked an increase in the number of websites comparing interest rates. One such site opened three months ago and had just 70,000 hits in December. In January, the global credit crisis led to sharp falls on the stock market and the site had a whopping 230,000 hits.

* Part-timers

De Telegraaf writes that Dutch women are still the champions when it comes to working part-time. A new report by the Dutch Social and Cultural Planning Office reveals that 75 percent of working Dutch women work less than 35 hours per week, and that is almost double the European average. Trouw also picks up on the story, writing that childless women and those whose kids have left home do not work more hours than their counterparts with young children.

Trouw writes that an investigation into what childless women do with all the extra hours that they don't work should have been launched years ago. The report's lead author says, "it's a group that has escaped notice for far too long".

* Affairs

It's almost St Valentine's Day and there are a number of stories about love in the papers. A headline in the NRC.next caught my eye: "rule one: do not fall in love". It appears that one in five companies have rules and regulations regarding relationships between employees. The paper writes that office love affairs do make coming to work more exciting for employees but that employers are not quite so enthusiastic. Some of the regulations include requiring employees to report their love affairs with colleagues and not allowing couples to work together.

Interestingly enough, de Telegraaf reports that a recent investigation revealed that 51 percent of workers have had an affair with a colleague, and 16 percent are having an affair with a colleague right now.

* Loitering

De Volkskrant writes that the number of old age pensioners that hang around outside supermarkets, in shopping malls, squares and park benches is on the increase. Some 18,000 elderly people loiter in public spaces on a daily basis, and a recent report suggests that loitering OAPs are a good thing. The old folks improve social cohesion in neighbourhoods because they chat to everybody who walks past and they keep an eye on things.

The number of old people hanging about is set to increase due to global warming and the fact that we are all living longer. However, public space in the Netherlands is not designed to accommodate OAPs. There are too few places to sit and many of the park benches are made of concrete, which is both cold and uncomfortable.

[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]

Subject: Dutch news 

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