SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Education council Onderwijsraad and the government could find themselves at loggerheads over a new pupil number norm introduced this year, RTL Nieuws reports.
Over 900 primary schools in the Netherlands would have too few pupils if the new standard were to be applied, and an unknown number of schools would face closure, RTL found.
The new rules say schools must have a certain number of pupils to remain viable, depending on the number of children in a given municipality. That means that in Amsterdam a primary school must have at least 195 pupils while in a smaller municipality such as Epe or Delfzijl 50 pupils would be enough.
The government has pledged to support small schools, but the education council is in favour of closing those with 50 or fewer pupils because they are vulnerable to problems such as teachers falling ill or a lack of contact with children of the same age.
Small schools can also combine up to four different classes in one schoolroom which is difficult for the teacher, the council claims, and are also relatively more expensive.
Small schools already receive extra government financial aid, and this will be upped as of this year. ‘Small schools have a crucial function in small communities,’ education minister Arie Slob said when he outlined the measure.
Figures published in 2015 show around one in four Dutch villages have no school. The problem is most acute in the northern province of Friesland, where 185 villages have no educational facilities.
The average distance from home to primary school used to be just under one kilometre but has now stretched to 3.4 kilometres, meaning young children can no longer cycle on their own. (DutchNews)