'Let's tackle inequality instead'

Education Council warns against cutting the education budget

Collegezaal. Foto: DUB Archief
Photo: DUB

It will probably take a while before a new cabinet is sworn in, but the Education Council has already written a letter for it (in Dutch only, Ed.). “Education is too important to be subject to policy shifts or course corrections every time a new cabinet is installed,” it states.

The Education Council is the organisation tasked with advising the Dutch government on educational matters. Although its members are independent, they are appointed by the cabinet. The council is currently chaired by Edith Hooge, Professor of Education Management at Tilburg University.

Three pressing issues
According to the letter, the “three most pressing issues” when it comes to education are teacher shortages, declining test scores in language and maths, and problems related to inequality and social segregation.

Moreover, the council argues that it is “unacceptable” that young people are graduating from school without being able to read and write properly, or without basic maths skills. The organisation advocates “sustainable improvement of language and numeracy/mathematics education, from primary to higher education”.

The council adds that the Dutch education system contributes to inequality. "Whether pupils and students can get a good education that suits them partly depends on their financial situation and the education their parents received.”

The next administration must continue to invest in education, the letter concludes. The Council points to “the constitutional balance between the government’s systemic responsibility and the autonomy of educational institutions”.

The current ministers will remain in their posts until a new cabinet is formed. This means that, for the time being, Robbert Dijkgraaf (D66) will continue to be the minister taking care of higher education matters and Mariëlle Paul (VVD) will take care of basic education.