Monday, January 19, 2015 - 10:52
Stop holding slower students back: Education Sec.
According to State Secretary Sander Dekker of Education and the Central Planning Bureau (CPB), grade repetition should be a thing of the past. "Grade repetition is an old-fashioned, expensive and non-motivating way to keep students there", Dekker said on Saturday in response to the CPB report that shows that grade repetition in primary and secondary schools cost the treasury 500 million euros per year. According to the CPB, there are "more efficient ways" to achieve the same level of education, such as refresher courses and summer schools. Currently a student has to repeat a whole year while their problems are often limited to a few subjects. "Retention is a blunt and expensive instrument", the CPB concludes in a research report that was published on Saturday. Dekker agrees completely. He points out that "good experiences" were had in experiments with summer schools in recent years. This past summer 320 students of 15 schools attended summer school which resulted in 86 percent of them being put through to the next year because of the extra classes. According to Dekker, the figures of the CPB are a helping hand to work more on alternatives to repeating. "Refresher courses and summer courses cost no money, but make money" said Dekker. He recently agreed with the Secondary Education Council, the umbrella organization for secondary schools, to make 9 million euro per year available for the program "limiting repeating by means (among other things) summer schools". The direct costs of repeating consist of additional years of education which amounts to 500 million euro. But according to the CPB, the indirect costs are much higher. Repeating students enter the labor market later, so they miss income and government tax and contribution revenues are foregone. According to an indicative calculation, this amounts to approximately 900 million euros per year. The CPB researchers advise to focus the policy more on the more efficient and cheaper alternatives. The General Education Union (AOb) is not in favor of a ban on repeating. AOb chairman Walter Dresscher points to the professional judgment of the teacher. "For removing deficiencies there are several options. For some students redoing a year is still the best", he says. According to AOb, the CPB only looks at education through "bookkeeping glasses". "What did you achieve if you save money on repeaters if the consequence is that they are inadequately prepared to reach the next school year, in spite of summer schools or refresher programs?" said Dresscher.