It is becoming increasingly complicated for municipalities to educate refugee children in emergency shelters. It happens that these children do not receive education for several months, when this should be within three months of their arrival in the Netherlands.
An emergency crisis shelter is a temporary shelter for asylum seekers who have no place in a COA (see box). The municipalities organize this shelter with the security zones. Asylum seekers are regularly moved from one place to another.
Because children are in one place for a short time, it is difficult to organize education according to some municipalities. Existing schools are often already full and there is hardly room for additional groups, in part because of a teacher shortage. In addition, the municipalities receive tens of thousands of Ukrainians, for whom they have arranged education.
There is no place in the village school
Since the beginning of October, more than a hundred children have been cared for in the village of Petén, for three months at first. They don’t go to school. According to the mayor of Schagen van Campen Nouwen, three months is too short to organize education. Now that it looks like the shelter will remain open until July 1, the municipality will again try to get the children to school.
The mayor asks: “It is our duty to provide education, but how do we do it with a shortage of teachers?”. “The village where the crisis shelter is located has one school with 125 students. They said in advance, we understand you have to make this decision, but unfortunately we can’t teach more children.”
More municipalities are in trouble
Children in Hoeksche Waard and Hoofddorp do not receive any education. There is no place for all children in Amsterdam and The Hague. Krimpen aan den IJssel could not find any teachers, volunteers take care of the children there. “This is the highest level that can be achieved,” says a company spokesperson.
Luan, the organization that helps schools educate refugees, is concerned. The working group rarely receives any information from the security districts about the number of people of compulsory school age in the shelter.
However, in some places it is also possible to organize education in a short period of time. For example, it is useful for municipalities to know well in advance that the shelter will be there. The experience of organizing education for Ukrainians was also mentioned.
Education Foundation Tabij heard during the summer holidays that emergency shelter would be available on a cruise ship in Velsen in the fall. “The most important requirement is that you have to work with a lot of parties who understand the necessity of the educational mission at hand,” says Lyke Seriese. She is the principal of Het Rinket Primary School, where the children now go.
In addition, it was immediately apparent that the group would stay for at least six months, which would facilitate the recruitment of people. “We assumed we couldn’t get qualified teachers for all classes,” says Seriese. “We received permission from the government for this. In the end we succeeded,” he added.
In principle, the children will stay until March 1. The school hopes that the children will be able to continue their education in cooking even after a possible move.
Wiersma: The queues are mainly in the big cities
Education Minister Wiersma acknowledges that it is not clear how many children are in emergency shelters and how many are receiving education from them. In last week’s discussion, he said it was important to get some insight into this first.
“What COA tells us is that in many places it is still possible to get children to school in three months,” he said. “But in big cities they have waiting lists and it is becoming increasingly difficult.”
The minister is investigating whether he can temporarily ease the rules around the education of refugee children. This also happened to Ukrainian children.