Due to the overcrowded asylum reception, it is not possible to educate all refugee children on time. Sometimes there is also a lack of insight into these children. This is evident from interviews that NU.nl has conducted with the organizations involved. “It’s really, really, really full.”
The crisis in the asylum reception area was clearly visible at the end of September around families in Schinnen in Limburg. About thirty children would receive education in the new schools there. But on September 28, the group was told that a day later they were going to the shelter cruise ship in Velsen in North Holland. That day, September 29, there was only one student left at the transfer school in Schinnen.
Due to the overcrowded asylum seeker centres, there are also children in shelters. But they are often only allowed to stay there for a short time. The fact that they sometimes suddenly have to go somewhere completely different has not only happened in Schinnen.
Because of this feature, there is little insight into whether and how the teaching is organized for these children. “We actually don’t know how many children don’t go to school,” says Hariëtte Boerboom. She speaks on behalf of LOWAN, the organization that helps schools with new entrants, about youth education.
The PO council, which works with LOWAN in the primary school, also sees that it is not possible to send all children to school within three months. A spokesman cannot say how many children are involved. “Children have to move often and suddenly, without the partners involved having time to arrange education.”
This is how newcomer education works
- After a child is registered in Ter Apel, he goes to school. This must be done within six weeks and at the latest within three months.
- These children attend schools that have classes for newcomers.
- In primary school, they go to a language school or newcomers’ school, for example. After one to two years, they can attend normal primary school education.
- In youth education, they attend an international transition class (ISK). Such an ISK is linked to a regular school. After a two-year course in ISK, a child can go on to general education.
Staff shortages and full classrooms
The schools are also facing staff shortages. As a result, they cannot always cope with the large influx of children. It was already quite busy, because the schools also had to arrange classes for all the children who had fled from Ukraine.
In addition, there are relatively many unaccompanied refugee minors (UAMs) this year. These children are now often housed somewhere in large groups because there is not enough childcare. As a result, schools sometimes suddenly have to arrange classes for more than fifty children.
“It’s impossible. It’s really a ridge, a ridge full,” says Boerboom. According to her, there are waiting lists in almost all ISK and they “have their hands in their hair”.
The ministry says it has “no exact figures” on the number of children receiving education within three months. “Municipalities and schools are making an effort to achieve this, but reception places are often temporary, which means that we now see that municipalities and school boards have to improvise a lot,” says a spokesman for Minister Dennis Wiersma (Education). “The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, together with municipalities and school boards, is looking at how these children can go to school.”
Call long-term care for children
State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) wrote in a letter to the House of Representatives on Monday that it is still possible to arrange training within three months in most places. But it is becoming increasingly difficult due to the teacher shortage and an increasing number of emergency shelters. Van der Burg emphasizes that it is in any case undesirable for the children to stay in these places. That’s why the government says it’s doing everything it can to remove them quickly.
It is also necessary: the court ruled in early October that the government must do more to improve asylum reception. One of the demands was that by the end of this week it must be arranged that all children receive education again within three months.
It requires long-term care, say the spokespersons. “Then municipalities and schools can also provide good education,” says the PO council. “It’s definitely very important for these children. It shouldn’t be the case that education comes to a standstill because they had to flee their home country.”