Politics is also for children, according to the Children’s Questions Hour


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  • Joss Ditforst

    Political editor

  • Joss Ditforst

    Political editor

“I’m Ghost and the Minister has just listed all the options on how to improve it and my question is how can all these options be paid for?” A primary school student speaking out of Eddy puts Climate Minister Rob Gettin to the test. Jost was the last in a whole line of students to pass the day during Children’s Question Hour, the latest House tradition.

The public hall is full of children of about 10 years old in brightly colored T-shirts. Five colors for five chapters, each dealing with its own theme with five different ministers. Committee Chair Vera Bergkamp opened the debate: “Politics is for everyone, including children.”

Nola from Arnhem explains the importance of her peers by talking about the lack of teachers. “Last year our teachers quit and we got a new teacher – he was very nice – but now he has stopped too,” she told the Minister for Primary and Secondary Education.

According to the girl, few people want to become teachers. “And what does the minister intend to change about it?” Wiersma gives an answer that would not be out of place in a real parliamentary debate. There are too many retirees, too few students want to go to primary school, there is understaffing everywhere, it is a difficult subject and teachers’ boards are getting fuller and more complete.

So that hasn’t helped enough yet, what are you going to do?

Student critic against Minister Wiersma

When the minister then discusses solutions that may or may not have been tried, he is put in his place by another student who interrupts. “So that hasn’t helped enough yet, what are you going to do?” Joy in the audience and compliments from Bergkamp: “A very delicate question.”

The “Children’s Question Hour” is being held today for the fourth time. Before that, the students were spinning nervously on the big blue chairs and could see the tight glasses tightened, but during the discussion the students seemed to be well prepared.

For example, Prime Minister Mark Rutte should explain why the war in Ukraine gets more attention than other wars. Social Affairs Minister Karen van Gennep was told she says everyone should put solar panels in their home, “but they’re so expensive, so how do we get them?” In her answer, the minister said something about subsidies and explained something about supply and demand. “But then there’s the problem that we don’t have enough people to put them in.”

What can we do about the fact that sometimes our parents can’t stand it, Minister Van Gennep’s girl asks:

Kids ask the cabinet about energy, climate and wallet plans

Van Gennep is in the House of Representatives to answer questions from a Nijmegen class about inflation. Danilo, who has difficulty reaching the microphone due to his height, asks the first question. “What is the government going to do about everything that is so expensive?” Bergkamp asks if he noticed anything about it himself. Well, not really, the boy hesitantly admits.

However, the Minister discusses this in detail, including explaining the interest rate hike by the European Central Bank to combat inflation. “Maybe it’s a little complicated,” she admits to her audience of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. So there is no interruption.

Housing Minister Hugo de Jonge isn’t easy on the kids either. It competes with the number of homes not yet built. Lots of those, lots of them and then add those. “What did you come up with then?” 50,000 is gambled by Jay Nairo of Almere, who wants to know if today’s children will be able to get a home later. But 900,000 turned out to be the answer De Jonge was looking for.

It cannot be ruled out that the student will be right in the end, because things are not going well in the construction industry. De Jonge also acknowledges this. “They say I’m too optimistic, but this has to work.”

When will the IJmeer line arrive?

A follow-up question from a classmate of Jay-Nairo leads to a burst of laughter in the hall. “When will the IJmeer line come?” , sounds from behind the interruption microphone. De Jonge laughs: “Should you have asked that question of the deputy of Flevoland or not?” The answer is somewhat timid: “From my father.”

Dad is unlucky, because the metro from Amsterdam to Flevoland will not be built at the moment, but the hour of children’s questions is there for a reason, Minister Gettin underscores in his contribution on the climate. A girl, barely rising above the stage, challenges the minister with a clever question. “Will we be able to say in a few years: This is because we spoke with Minister Rob Gettin?”

Jitin points to section K where he is sitting with his fellow ministers. “All adults are here and often tend to think about why things can’t be done, or why things need to be slowed down.” But he says it’s precisely children and students who have to keep adults sharp. “They are fighting for the climate and asking us to do more to combat climate change.”

By the time the question time was over, it turned out that the students hadn’t come just to put pressure on the ministers. Photographs are taken with ministers and autographs are requested. The latter mainly from the only celebrity in the group: Prime Minister Mark Root.

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