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Amsterdam steps up funding for Dutch language courses13 November 2012, by Carly Blair
In the face of national budget cuts to funding for language courses for migrants, the municipality of Amsterdam has announced plans to step up funding for Dutch language education for adults residing in the Netherlands. The primary objectives are to help get people working and participating more actively in Amsterdam society.
With the new programme Educatie Werkt! (Education Works!), the municipality of Amsterdam will provide funding for educational purposes in 2013, mainly intended for adults who have already lived in the Netherlands for a while. The objective is no longer getting people to pass the integration exam, but rather lowering the barriers to working and participating in Amsterdam society.
For 70.000 to 100.000 Amsterdammers, the Dutch language and other basic skills are an obstacle. Those who do not speak Dutch well have more difficulty finding work, holding on to a job, staying focused on school, and participating in community activities. The Mayor and executive board of Amsterdam (college van burgemeester en wethouders, or college van B&W) are therefore putting a strong focus on language skills.
The Educatie Werkt! programme will focus first and foremost on people who lack basic knowledge and skills, and on mid- to higher educated people who also must make use of Dutch as a second language.
The college has earmarked 36 million euros for the programme in 2013, decreasing stepwise to 18 million euros in 2015.
Within the programme, language activities for a minimum of 10.000 Amsterdammers will be organised each year. The activities will range from a course with a teacher to tutorials that are available online. Volunteers can get involved in any type of activity and offer students support where needed.
The target group includes both Dutch- and non-Dutch-speaking Amsterdammers. Since 2007, the Integration Act has led to over 35.000 Amsterdammers starting the process, of whom around 20.000 are expected to succeed. Those who have not yet started a course, mostly those who are not required to take the integration exam, now form the first target group for Educatie Werkt!
The programme will also focus on those who haven't yet completed the programme and on people who need to further improve their command of the Dutch language.