It is becoming increasingly complicated for municipalities to educate refugee children in emergency accommodation. It happens that these children do not receive education for several months, while it should be within three months of arriving in the Netherlands.
The crisis center is a temporary crisis center for asylum seekers for whom the COA reception organization does not have space (see box). The municipalities organize this crisis center together with the security regions. Asylum seekers are regularly moved from one place to another.
Because the children are in one place for a short time, according to some municipalities it is difficult to organize education. The existing schools are often already full, and there is hardly any room for additional groups, partly due to the lack of teachers. In addition, the municipalities take in tens of thousands of Ukrainians for whom they have arranged training.
No place at the village school
Since the beginning of October, more than a hundred children have been cared for in the village of Petten, initially for three months. They don’t go to school. According to Mayor Van Kampen-Nouwen in the municipality of Schagen, three months is too short to organize training. Now that it looks like the shelter will be open until July 1, the municipality will again try to get the children to school.
“We have a duty to provide education, but how do you do that with a teacher shortage?” wonders the mayor. “The village where the shelter is located has one school with 125 students. They said in advance that we understand that you have to make this decision, but unfortunately we cannot teach extra children.”
Several municipalities in trouble
The children in Hoeksche Waard and Hoofddorp also receive no education. There is not room for all children in Amsterdam and The Hague. Krimpen aan den IJssel has not been able to find any teachers, volunteers take care of the children there. “It is the highest attainable,” says a spokesman.
Lowan, the organization that helps schools educate refugees, is concerned. The working group receives virtually no information from the security regions about the number of people of compulsory school age at the shelter.
Nevertheless, it is sometimes also possible to organize training in a short time. For example, it helps if municipalities know in good time that the shelter will be there. The experience of organizing education for Ukrainians is also mentioned.
The education foundation Tabij heard during the summer holidays that there would be an emergency shelter on a cruise ship in Velsen this autumn. “The most important condition is that you have to cooperate with a lot of parties who understand the necessity of the educational task that is there,” says Lyke Seriese. She is the head of the primary school Het Rinket, where the children now go.
In addition, it was immediately clear that the group would stay for at least six months, which made it easier to hire people. “We assumed that we couldn’t get qualified teachers for all classes,” Seriese says. “We got permission from the government to do that. In the end, we succeeded.”
In principle, the children stay until 1 March. The school hopes that the children will be able to continue their education in Tabij even after a possible move.
Wiersma: mainly waiting lists in big cities
Education Minister Wiersma acknowledges that it is not clear how many children are in crisis centers and how many of them receive education. In a debate last week, he said that it is important to gain insight into this first.
“What the COA gives us back is that in many places it is still possible to get children into school within three months,” he said. “But in the big cities they have waiting lists and it’s getting harder and harder.”
The minister is investigating whether he can temporarily relax the rules surrounding the education of refugee children. This also happened to Ukrainian children.