What you think about this story?
Picnic has to pay just 15 people in line with the supermarket pay deal: court
The school performance of 15-year-olds in the Netherlands is deteriorating. Especially the reading ability of Netherlands' teens is declining compared to other countries, according to the annual PISA survey, in which 77 countries participate, including the 37 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Compared to the rich OECD countries, Dutch teens' reading ability is below average.
On reading skills, Dutch pupils received a score of 485 in the latest PISA survey last year. That is 18 points lower than in 2015 and puts the Netherlands slightly below average in the list of OECD countries. 24 percent of 15-year-olds in the Netherlands cannot read at the desired level - they can't get the most important ideas from a text of average level and average length. The OECD average is 23 percent of pupils not reading at a desired level.
Dutch pupils' scores in natural sciences are also deteriorating, from above 520 in 2015 to 503 last year. Mathematical performance, on the other hand, increased slightly from 512 to 519. In both these subjects, the Netherlands is still just above the OECD average.
Despite the slight increase in mathematical performance, the OECD is still worried about the Netherlands. "If we take all scores into account, the long-term trend is clearly negative", the OECD said in its country report on the Netherlands.
According to education union AOb, the Netherlands now belongs to a group of seven countries whose school performance in all subjects constantly showed a downward trend since 2003.
Henrik de Moel of AOb called the Netherlands latest PISA scores "very worrying". "It is a shame that in a rich country like the Netherlands, we are unable to maintain our education", he said. According to him, a major problem is that education inequality in the Netherlands is increasing. "Highly educated parents and parents with a higher income nowadays invest from the first year in extra classes, or even before that. For children of those parents, the damage is not too bd. But for children of parents with a lower socio-economic status, the problems cannot be ignored."
If government policy doesn't change, the Dutch education system will only continue to deteriorate, De Moel said. "The 15-year-olds who now show these poor scores started at a secondary school an average of three years ago. Then the teacher shortages in primary education were not as serious as they are today. Also in physics, chemistry and mathematics - subjects directly related tot he PISA results - high school students will receive fewer lessons, or they will receive lessons from unqualified teachers. So we can expect that the problems in our education system will only get bigger."
Teachers in primary and secondary education have been campaigning for the government to push more money into education for over a year. Their next strike, which will last two days, is scheduled for January 30th and 31st.
The position of people with disabilities in the Netherlands is deteriorating. Over the past three years, it has become more difficult for people with disabilities to fully participate in society, according to a report commissioned by the UN Convention Alliance, a collaboration of five organizations that advocate for people with disabilities, which will be handed to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva on Tuesday, Trouw reports.
The researchers asked people with a disability about their experiences and looked into figures on poverty, unemployment, and the like. Ten years ago, 9.5 percent of people with a disability lived in poverty. In 2016, that was 24.6 percent. In 2011, a total of 3,317 children were excluded from the school system due to their disability. Last year 5,576 children were excluded. The researchers found that the Participation Act - the law intended to help people with disabilities find work - is not working. Even in the current times of widespread staff shortages, unemployment is increasing among people with disabilities. There are also not enough affordable adapted homes.
"You can remove all barriers, make all cafes, festivals and websites accessible, but if people with a disability don't get education, have no income, or have no roof over they heads, they will not ever get to the hospitality industry or festivals," Illya Soffer, director of IederIn, one of the participants in the UN Convention Alliance, said to Trouw. "Then they stay disadvantaged."
In order to prevent people with disabilities being excluded or disadvantaged, the government needs to step in, Soffer said. But the government is increasingly withdrawing from the burden of care, as can be seen with the decentralization of healthcare in 2015 - a main cause for the deteriorating position of this group, according to Soffer. "You see many negative effects come from that," she said. "Many facilities for care and support, learning, living and working have been phased out and broken down, allowances and tax benefits have disappeared, while they were intended to give people with a disability an normal place in society."
The extra care responsibilities also mean that municipalities' budgets are stretched thinner and thinner. And then people with disabilities are often the first to get left behind, Soffer said. "City councils are dealing with addicts, nuisances, poverty, child abuse, refugees, and then you also have some people with disabilities", she said. "Money goes to social problems and nuisance. You see that with the youth aid. Children with disabilities come off badly in youth aid because the emphasis is on equal opportunities for children who come from vulnerable families. People with disabilities are not visible. They do not step on tractors towards Malieveld. They are dependent, isolated and do not cause any inconvenience. The sum of that makes their position extra vulnerable."