Schools quickly disappearing from smaller Dutch towns

Primary school classroom (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Douglas P Perkins)Primary school classroom (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Douglas P Perkins)

Roughly 630 of the 2,400 municipalities across the Netherlands no longer have their own school, as a rapid decline in the number of pupils has led many small-town schools to shut their doors for good. The northern province of Friesland is seeing the most contraction, with 185 villages having no schools there, according to newspaper AD.The closures are forcing more children to travel further and further distances to get an education. Students used to live an average of 922 meters from their schoolhouse, but in the hardest hit areas that has risen to 3.4 kilometers, the newspaper wrote.

“Every child should go to school on a bicycle with training wheels and that children should live with their friends so that they may play easily together after school,” Labour MP Loes Ypma said.

Many of the schools have closed down once the number of pupils falls below 100, critically affecting those villages where less than 500 people reside. “Parents have the right to choose a school that suits their philosophies of life. Then we have to make sure those schools are there,” said Rinda den Besten, chairman of  trade association PO.

Another MP, CDA member Michel Rog, added, ” School closure takes the heart out of the community.”

The education ministry countered that a school is not one of the requirements in determining if a village is livable.