MPs fear integration centre cuts
27 November 2003
AMSTERDAM — Parliament is wary of a proposal to open up the market for integration courses, fearing that the Regional Training Centres (ROCs) — which presently have a monopoly in the sector — will suffer financially.
Both MPs from coalition government parties Christian Democrat CDA and Liberal VVD and the opposition parties expressed concern during a debate with Education State Secretary Annette Nijs on Wednesday.
The ROCs in the four major Dutch cities raised alarm last week claiming that a planned EUR 57 million in government integration funding cuts and the removal of their monopoly will negatively impact turnover, meaning that investment in infrastructure and personnel will be hurt.
The savings make up part of a record planned EUR 17 billion in budget cuts the CDA, VVD and Democrat D66 coalition Cabinet intends to make between now and 2007 to revitalise government finances. Despite the government’s ongoing support for compulsory integration, the ROCs have been requested to tighten their belts also.
But opposition party Labour PvdA warned of wasted investment should the ROCs — which already have several years experience in offering integration courses — lose out to other education institutes.
The CDA and VVD urged Nijs to ensure that the ROCs — for which she is responsible — do not become victims of another department.
The Justice Ministry supervises the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), which together supervise integration and immigration policy.
But Nijs said she would discuss with Integration Minister Rita Verdonk a “civil” introduction of market forces. She also said integration courses only yield the ROCs in the four major cities (Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Rotterdam) 5 percent of their turnover.
The publicly-funded, ROCs presently have a monopoly on the provision of integration, or “inburgering”, courses. Newly-arrived immigrants and those who have been in the Netherlands for some time are obligated to undergo a programme consisting of Dutch language and culture lessons.
Anti-immigrant politician Pim Fortuyn attracted widespread support in claiming the Netherlands is full and urging the compulsory integration of immigrants. He was shot and killed in May 2002, but the integration remains a key component of government policy.
Newcomers might soon be forced to undergo such studies in their land of origin before being allowed to enter the Netherlands. Successful participants will have the cost of their course repaid in full.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news