If it is up to Inspector General of the Education Inspectorate Alida Oppers, secondary school students can only pass if they pass the Dutch subject. VMBO and HAVO students have their Dutch final exam today.
Although Dutch is a compulsory subject at secondary school, a final exam candidate who fails for Dutch can still pass. VMBO students may obtain a 5 for Dutch if their average score is only 5.5 for all subjects. Students at HAVO or VWO may obtain a 5 if they do pass the other core subjects (English and mathematics).
This was the case for one fifth of the HAVO and VWO students who passed last year. Depending on the subject of study, this was between 7 and 14 percent in pre-vocational secondary education.
In the NOS Radio 1 News, Inspector Oppers says he is concerned. “These students move on to MBO or higher education, and then we see problems arise further down the chain, for example in teacher training.”
According to research by the Inspectorate, 30 percent of students in teacher training fail the language test they have to take in their first year. And those are the people who have to teach the next generation our language. “And we also see in MBO-2 that 15 percent of students do get the diploma, but then below the language level that you need at least to save yourself a bit in society,” says Oppers.
In this week’s edition of De Staat van het Onderwijs, the Inspectorate already stated that school boards could do more to improve the basic skills of pupils. Structural investments by the government should stimulate the recruitment of teachers. Regular further training should also prevent them from leaving the profession. The cabinet has earmarked 1 billion euros to improve basic skills such as Dutch.
Wiersma: interesting, but don’t just do it
Minister Wiersma calls the proposal to make a passing mark mandatory for Dutch students an interesting idea. “It’s good that we pay so much attention to the importance of language. We desperately need all good ideas to improve basic skills.”
He adds that he will look at the proposal. “But I can’t say overnight that we’re going to do this.” The minister also points out that there are students who have difficulty with Dutch or who are, for example, dyslexic. “The question is whether you can stop them, while we also want to get the best out of the other talent they have. That requires a consideration.”
- Still worried about basic skills of pupils, ‘schools can do more’