Because of the overcrowding in the asylum reception, not all refugee children can be educated on time. Sometimes there is also a lack of insight for these children. This is evidenced by the conversations NU.nl has with the relevant organizations. “It’s really, really, really full.”
The crisis in the refugee reception area was clearly visible at the end of September around the families in Schenen in Limburg. About thirty children will receive education at the Newcomers School there. But on September 28, the group was told they had to go to the cruise ship in Velsen in the north of the Netherlands the next day. On that day, September 29, there was only one student left at the Shinen Newcomer School.
Because of the overcrowding of asylum seekers centers, there are also children in emergency (crisis) shelters. But often they are only allowed to stay there for a short time. The fact that sometimes they suddenly have to go to a completely different place didn’t just happen in Shinen.
Because of this draw, there is little insight into whether and how education is arranged for these children. “We really don’t know at all how many kids aren’t going to school,” says Harriet Boorboom. She speaks on behalf of LOWAN, the organization that helps schools educate newcomers, about secondary education.
The PO Board, which works with LOWAN in primary education, also finds it not possible to send all children to school within three months. The speaker cannot specify the number of children involved. “Children have to move around a lot and all of a sudden, without the partners involved having time to arrange education.”
This is how education for newcomers works
- After the child is enrolled in Ter Apel, he goes to school. This should be done within six weeks, and at the latest within three months.
- These children go to schools that have education for newcomers.
- In primary education, for example, they go to a language school or a school for newcomers. After one to two years they can go to regular primary education.
- In secondary education they go to the International Transition Class (ISK). Like ISK is associated with a regular school. After a two-year course in ISK, the child can move on to regular education.
A shortage of academic staff and the completion of classes
Schools are also facing staff shortages. As a result, they cannot always cope with the large influx of children. It was already very crowded, because the schools also had to arrange education for all the children who had fled Ukraine.
In addition, there is a relatively large number of unaccompanied minor refugees (UAMs) this year. These children are often housed somewhere in large groups, since there is no small-scale childcare. As a result, schools sometimes suddenly have to arrange education for more than fifty children.
“It’s impossible,” says Boerboom. “It really is a plump ridge.” According to her, there are waiting lists in almost every ISK and they are “with their hands in their hair”.
The ministry says it does not have “accurate figures” for the number of children receiving education within three months. “Municipalities and schools are making efforts to make this happen, but reception sites are often temporary, which means we are now seeing that municipalities and school boards have to improvise a lot,” says Minister Spokesperson Denis Wiersma (Education). “The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, along with municipalities and school boards, is looking into how these children go to school.”
Contact long-term care for children
Secretary of State Eric van der Burg (Asylum) wrote in a letter to the House of Representatives on Monday that education could still be arranged within three months in most places. But this is made even more difficult by the lack of teachers and the growing number of emergency shelters. Van der Burg stresses that it is in no way desirable for children to remain in these sites. That is why the government says it is doing everything in its power to remove them quickly.
This is also necessary: the court ruled at the beginning of October that the government should do more to improve asylum reception. One such requirement was that, by the end of this week, it must be arranged that all children would receive education again within three months.
Speakers say this requires long-term care. “Then municipalities and schools can also provide quality education,” says the PO Council. “This is certainly very important for these children. It shouldn’t be the case that education stops working because they had to flee their home.”