RNW Press review, Monday 7 April 2008

7th April 2008, Comments 0 comments

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

7 April 2008

Primary schools lagging behind in northern province
Today's AD warns that the number of failing schools is rising and that the situation in the northern provinces is especially worrying. The number of primary or basis schools, as they are known here, deemed "very weak" has nearly doubled to 155 over the last two years.

A spokesman from a schools umbrella group says: "In small communities, it's difficult to talk about pupils lagging behind. Children who are having problems stay at the same school and don't get referred to specialist institutions."

Also on education, De Volkskrant says an increasing number of final written exams in vocational secondary education are not written at all but done on computer. The co-coordinator of the organisation in charge of the exams explains: "We look at the gains to be made by using computers for each subject. Working with computers fits in with the life experience of these children."

Aid for working parents when school is out
School holidays are a part of education in the broader sense, and the AD has a piece on the problems these breaks cause working parents.

A firm now organises supervised travel holidays for children so their parents can carry on going to the office. The company's director says there's a huge amount of interest in the May holiday, when schools close for two weeks.

"Many working parents have a problem with a few days of that holiday. We can sort it out by organising a sailing camp, or whatever, for a couple of days," he suggests.

Level-headed response to Fitna due to long-standing debate over Islam
A heartening report in the NRC Handelsblad reckons that the level-headed response of the Dutch Muslim community to Geert Wilders' anti-Islam film Fitna is in part due to the sharp criticism of Islam in The Netherlands over recent years. Deputy social affairs minister Ahmed Aboutaleb believes the "at times unbearably harsh" debate has bolstered the self-confidence of Dutch Muslims.

The paper says many observers think the government and the Muslim community have successfully kept the lid on the Fitna issue. Not only moderate Muslim leaders, but also fundamentalist clerics such as Abou Ismaïl called on the faithful to stay calm. He is quoted as saying: "If you resort to violence, he (Mr Wilders) will get more support. If you behave with restraint, you'll demonstrate that he's wrong."

Minister plans to increase pension
On its front page, Trouw covers employment minister Piet Hein Donner's plans to give people working beyond the age of 65 increased pension payouts. The bonus being proposed is five percent extra per year and the minister hopes to be able to introduce the measure by the end of 2010.

He hopes the unions and employers will agree to similar extras for the private pension schemes of people working beyond 65.

An employment ministry spokesman says the proposal would especially benefit workers with insufficient pension prospects. These include people from former Dutch colonies, immigrants, refugees and Dutch citizens who have returned home after periods abroad.

The measure is part of a raft of proposals to combat the problems of looming demographic change whereby a smaller workforce will have to pay for an ever-increasing number of pensioners.

Deadly booby trap found in Limburg
A number of today's papers report a disturbing discovery - a largish block of concrete with 25 huge nails embedded in it, their sharp ends unevenly pointing upwards - made in the woods of the bucolic province of Limburg in the south of the Netherlands.

The device was found at the bottom of a one and a half metre-deep hole in a popular woodland path. The deadly booby-trap was constructed recently and the opening was covered with earth and leaves.

A security expert fills us in: "This must be the work of a psychopath, a twisted mind. This is no joke. Children could easily fall in." The police are urging walkers and other woodland visitors to be on their guard.

[Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica]

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