Students will get more flexibility with secondary school choice to reduce education inequality

Education Minister Dennis Wiersma wants students to be able to delay their decision on whether they intend to take a VMBO, HAVO or VWO program in secondary school. This fall, he will announce proposals to end the inequality of opportunity that currently prevails in education, he said in an interview with AD.

The choice of school that children make with their parents is still largely determined by a final test given in group 8 of primary school, and advice provided by the school. Experts say this early selection leads to educational opportunities that are not equal for everyone.

“We have to be ready to make far-reaching choices in many areas, including in terms of subsequent selection. As far as I’m concerned, we’ll start with that, but the question is, ‘How quickly can that happen?’ Because before you know it, it’s years later,” Wiersma told the newspaper.

The minister said he was developing various options to change that and would present them in the fall. He said it is absolutely certain that different students get better odds than others. “The inequality of opportunity that we are currently seeing really upsets me,” the minister said.

Children from lower socio-economic backgrounds are not as likely to have a “stimulating and supportive home environment”, the socio-economic council SER wrote in a report last year. This results in a higher rate of negative consequences on education. They are also more likely to be affected by school closures. Equal opportunities are “in everyone’s interest”, SER’s Steven van Eijck told NOS. “It’s good to use your talents, to do what you’re good at and to develop more. And it’s just good for our society: everyone can participate.” Additional lessons to help children transition to secondary education before guiding them to VMBO, HAVO or VWO can help solve the problem.

The Board of Education agreed and advised that selection to one of the forms of secondary education should only take place after a transitional period of three years during which a pupil has more time to grow and develop, and therefore be valued more fairly. If passed, it would mean that the current school boards and Group 8 Primary School final test will be cancelled. The Education Minister did not say in the interview if he was considering such a big change to the system.

The Education Council also noted that the amount of money parents can spend on primary and secondary students has a direct impact on their access to quality education. He called on the government and school boards to carefully investigate the growing number of commercial tutoring and homework guidance services, and exam training providers and decide more formally what is needed for each, versus which is a luxury that does not need to be offered to everyone. children. By doing a better job of funding education, the government can also eliminate many needs for tutoring and exam training, and provide these services in schools.

The three secondary education programs offered in the Netherlands are voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs (VMBO), hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs (HAVO) or voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs (VWO). The first prepares for a trade and ends at the age of 16 and can lead to higher vocational education. HAVO often organizes an extra year to prepare students for higher practical education and polytechnic work, while VWO prepares scientific and academic work based on advanced research at a university.

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