Secondary school pupils demonstrate

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More than 1000 secondary school pupils demonstrated in Amsterdam on Wednesday afternoon against government proposals to increase the number of actual teaching hours.

The demonstration on the Museum Square was organised by the pupils organisation LAKS. The pupils oppose a bill by the Minister of Education Marja van Bijsterveldt to increase the number of hours secondary school children have lessons. The bill proposes increasing the number of hours of lessons back up to 1040 for first and second year pupils. LAKS fears that teacher shortages will mean that pupils are kept in classrooms without actually receiving extra lessons, hence the term "chicken coop hours".

In November 2007, demonstrations against the 1040 hour standard got out of hand as pupils walked out of lessons and demonstrated en mass and demonstrated on the Museum Square after social media appeals.

Today’s demonstration was disrupted by fireworks being thrown into the crowd. The turnout was lower than the 5000 to 10,000 LAKS hoped to draw. A number of head teachers support the demonstration.

In 2007, the same minister decided that 40 of the hours could be used for non-compulsory lessons and meetings, and 72 of the hours could be used for social placement schemes.

The minister says secondary schoo pupils be better off under the new proposals as third year pupils will no longer be required to attend school for 1040 hours.

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