Thousands of Dutch pupils to protest on Friday

29th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

29 November 2007 , AMSTERDAM - Dutch pupils on Thursday said that protests scheduled for Friday against longer hours at school would go ahead as planned.

29 November 2007

AMSTERDAM - Dutch pupils on Thursday said that protests scheduled for Friday against longer hours at school would go ahead as planned.

Sywert van Lienden, the 17-year-old chairman of the Dutch high school pupils' association LAKS, has called upon all Dutch high school pupils to convene at the Museumplein.

The Museumplein is the great lawn between the Concertgebouw and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Van Lienden says he is expecting tens of thousands of students to come to Amsterdam. The LAKS has taken special precautionary measures to prevent rioting.

During previous protests in several cities, protests turned into violent rioting.

Dutch high school pupils have been protesting in the past 10 days the government education policy of fining schools who did not provide a minimum of 1,040 hours of education to each pupil.

Dutch schools have been obliged in the past years to provide this minimum amount of classes, replacing the previous minimum of 960 hours per year.

The pupils want go back to the previous 960-hour minimum. They claim schools fulfil their 1,040 hour teaching obligation primarily by forcing pupils to remain on the school premises without providing extra classes.

The LAKS says most schools have neither the funding nor the teaching staff required to comply with the governmental policies.

The organisation also claims many schools do not even have the means to provide 960 hours of proper teaching.

This is partly due to a lack of financial means, but also to the scarcity of teaching personnel, they say.

"Quality, not quantity is our first priority," LAKS chairman Van Lienden said. "The government should focus on the teaching quality as well."

Following a multi-decade drop in Dutch teaching salaries and increased governmental interference in school teaching, taking away teachers' autonomy and freedom, many schools lack teaching staff.

Many qualified teachers have switched to other professions, while teaching academies have been receiving fewer and fewer new students in recent years.

LAKS representatives met several times this week with officials of the Education Ministry, including Deputy Education Minster Marja van Bijsterveldt.

Neither the meetings nor Wednesday's parliamentary debate about the subject bore any results.

[Copyright dpa 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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