Children leaving schools in the Netherlands functionally illiterate
According to the Education Inspectorate’s 2016 / 2017 report, educational performance by pupils in Dutch primary education and secondary education has yet again worsened, a trend that has been occurring for the last 20 years.
NL loses international position
The report brings to light a few trends which are a cause for concern, namely the literacy rate of pupils leaving primary school. Nowadays, 3.500 pupils leave primary school functionally illiterate, and it is not only reading that children are struggling with.
Figures show a gradual decrease in scores for calculus, mathematics, reading and natural sciences. In 2017, around 13.000 pupils left primary school without being able to do simple calculus.
Increasingly fewer pupils are performing above average in primary and secondary education, and because of this, the Netherlands has lost its leading position internationally. The decreasing scores are not due to children of asylum seekers, as previously thought, as this group was not included in the research.
Dutch school segregation
Another issue, which cropped up in the Education Inspectorate’s 2016 / 2017 report, was the increasing social-economic segregation in schools. In 23 of the largest Dutch municipalities, children with high-income and / or highly educated parents have progressively fewer classmates from lower income families or families where the parents are less educated.
Part of this school segregation is due to segregation of “high-income” and “low-income” neighbourhoods in Dutch cities. Children in the neighbourhood tend to attend the closest school and this influences the mix of children there. However, this is not the whole story.
Many highly educated young couples move to areas of the city they wouldn’t have moved to before because of the high prices on the Dutch housing market. Yet, when it comes to sending their children to school, they choose other schools over the one available in their area.
The Education Inspectorate is concerned that children will find themselves in a “bubble”, as they are not coming into contact with children from other backgrounds. Moreover, the Inspectorate is worried about the quality of education at Dutch schools.
According to the Inspector General, Monique Vogelzang, many schools with pupils whose parents are less educated have difficulty finding teachers. Over time, this segregation could reinforce educational inequality.