Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Dumbing down the Dutch

In the four largest Dutch cities, foreign (mostly Muslim immigrant) children make up more than half the school population. These children have huge learning deficits, and there are basically two ways of dealing with this. One is to separate the two groups, in order to accomodate to the respective levels of knowledge and ability. The other is to mix the two up, and hope the slow group picks up from the native kids.

Most immigrants actually prefer the first choice. They put their kids in schools which are already predominantly 'black', usually because the school is located in the 'black' neighbourhood. The net effect of this of course is that both written and spoken langage skills are far below par, which in turn has dramatic effects when the time comes for these kids to seek higher education or find jobs. Many of them are functional illiterates.

I don't know if the other option is better, however. 'Cause what happens when immigrant kids are placed (ideally in a 50/50 proportion) in mixed schools is this: The level and pace of teaching is adjusted to their levels, which means it is slower than native kids otherwise would have had. Which in turn means that at the end of six years of primary school, Dutch kids are less educated than their parents and grandparend were.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. The real solution of course is not to have such a large segment of your population lag behind in education. And it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better (if ever it does, which I don't believe). Because non-native children are making up an ever larger part of Dutch youth, but their level of integration (and with it their level of education) is not improving.
Read more on another failed attempt to solve this problem
here.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Most immigrants actually prefer the first choice. They put their kids in schools which are already predominantly 'black', usually because the school is located in the 'black' neighbourhood."

It is true that 'black' families often live in 'black' neighbourhoods. But it is not true that parents prefer to put their children in one of these schools. They also prefer mixed schools, but lack the means (money, transportation, knowledge) to register their children there.
I'm not speaking about parents who want to take their children to muslim schools, that's a complete different matter.

11:10 PM  
Blogger D said...

"But it is not true that parents prefer to put their children in one of these schools."
It is true for many of them, if indeed not most. Most immigrants of Moroccan and Turkish descent are as eager to have their children integrate as they themselves are, which means not at all. They WOULD like them to get a good education, after all what parent doesn't want his child to do well in life, but they also prefer to put their children in a school where they feel more at home, ie among their own. Just as native Dutch do.

9:27 AM  

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