Concern mounting over no-show students, education gap
Primary schools with many pupils from poor families saw high absenteeism this week, because parents are afraid to send their kids back to class, according to the Youth Education Fund, which supports around 200 primary schools with pupils from disadvantaged situations. Parents are mainly concerned that their kids will contract the coronavirus, or pass it on to someone else. Schools are concerned that already vulnerable children are at risk of falling more and more behind, the Youth Education Fund said to the Volksrkant.
"We hear from dozens of school leaders from our following that about 20 to 30 percent of the children did not come to school," Youth Education Fund director Hans Spekman said to the newspaper. That is much higher than the national average. A survey by the general association for school leaders AVS among 1,100 schools showed that most schools only had 1 to 2 percent pupils absent, and that 8 percent of schools missed more than 10 pupils.
Most school leaders who raised concern with the Youth Education Fund reported that parents are afraid, according to Spekman. "Many parents feel that their child is a kind of guinea pig," he explained. Parents also often cited relatives who are at higher risk for the coronavirus as a reason to keep their kids as home. "I don't condemn these parents, but of course it does not help children who are already in a vulnerable position if they do not go to school."
The Youth Education Fund would like more support for these schools. "Schools become overloaded if they have to approach all parents about this," Spekman said to the Volkskrant. "Municipalities could provide more support to these schools and more specific information would also help."
About 55 thousand kids did not go back to school when the primary schools reopened on Monday, the AVS reports. That is not a direct reason for panic, Minister Arie Slob for Primary and Secondary Education said to AD. According to the Minister, the absent group is very diverse and he expects that many more kids will be back at school next week.
The Minister acknowledged that the group of absentees also contains vulnerable children. This group needs to be given enough attention and the authorities are keeping a close eye on that, Slob said.