Special education students feeling abandoned by the minister
Thousands of secondary special education (VSO) students taking end of term exams have high levels of stress or depression complaints, RTL Nieuws reported. An estimated 4,000 of them cannot make use of the same Covid-19 benefits that students in regular education are able to utilize.
"Unfair," said 15-year old Marthijn van Zwam who is attending special education. "Because I also suffered from the coronavirus. I couldn't go to school for weeks because of the virus," he said.
Most students are able to use the "thumb rule" so that the score from a particular subject is not counted in their overall marks. Special education students are not afforded this opportunity like their peers in other schools. Additionally, special education students are not allowed to resit exams.
The central written exam (CE) is typically given orally to special education students. Instead of taking it in May or June like their peers, it is given at the beginning of July. A student receives a partial certificate for each subject passed, which can be obtained over an extended period of time to be less burdensome. The same school diploma is awarded as in regular education, where all exams are usually taken in the same year.
The lack of equality in benefits given to regular and special students has caused anger in Parliament. "This already vulnerable group must have the same opportunities as peers in regular education. They have also been affected by coronavirus," said D66 MP Paul van Meenen.
He submitted two motions on the issue which garnered support from a majority in the Tweede Kamer. "I want this group of students to also get an extra resit. They really need that. And I also want this group to be able to use the thumb rule," he urged.
Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Arie Slob, has so far refused to implement the motions. "We award everyone a diploma. The implementing organizations have indicated that they can do a lot, but that this is simply not feasible."
These students will have the opportunity to complete their other subjects next year, Slob said.