Schools fear the government’s billions will come back in their face like Boomerang Bo

Schools fear the government's billions will come back in their face like Boomerang Bo
Students in Vriezenveen, May 2021.Photo by Joris van Genneep / Volkskrant

Since students have had to spend large parts of the last school year at home, some of them have fallen behind in learning. Education received an additional 8.5 billion euros from the National Education Program to reduce this gap. Only that money can bounce like a rebound in the face of education, is fear.

Schools must spend the money within two years. Inquiries with their supporters, to which 160 school boards responded, show that many schools expect this to be unsuccessful due to a teacher shortage, according to the interest group. Nearly 80 percent of school boards surveyed want to hire additional staff in the next two years, but 42 percent said they don’t know how.

The council even fears that the billions released will only increase inequality of opportunity in education. With the release of the additional funds, teachers will be procured far from underserved areas, making teacher shortages in those locations all the more urgent.

Finance

In the short term, some money can also be left, because schools cannot spend it properly due to a shortage of teachers. This can create the impression that schools have a lot of money, which could reduce the political will to increase investment in education. Although the schools themselves believe that additional structural investment is needed.

When a multi-billion euro investment of 8.5 billion euros was announced, the reaction of the Board of Education and the Court of Auditors was already critical. Both share the Post Office Board’s skepticism about the effectiveness of a one-time capital injection, which will not provide a solution to the structural problems of teacher shortages. Edith Hogg, chair of the Board of Education, said the episodic nature of the funds stands in the way of sustainable improvement in education.

The House was also critical, but eventually approved the plan after Education Minister Ari Slopp promised to provide a clear picture of its impact after the Christmas holidays. According to him, modifications are still possible.

inequality of opportunity

A month ago, the Social and Economic Council (SER) advised that the entire education system should be reformed to tackle the “multi-headed monster” of inequality of opportunity. For example, according to SER, higher-quality schools provide educational support for pupils to catch up, while weaker schools cannot.

According to SER, extra money needs to be spent on education to do something about this for a longer period of time. For example, classes should be smaller, teachers should earn a higher salary and some young people should be determined at a later date than the level of education they belong to. SER did not report any amounts.

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