School inequality gap expanding due to commercial tutoring, exam training: Education Council
Access to quality education is too dependent on how much primary and secondary school pupils' parents can spend, according to the Education Council in an advisory report. The government and school boards need to carefully look at the growing number of commercial tutoring, homework guidance, and exam training providers and decide what is "necessary" and what is "nice to have." Everything necessary must be freely accessible to all pupils, the Education Council said, Nieuwsuur reports.
The government must also ensure that schools have enough money to provide good education so that they don't have to rely on extra tutoring and exam training. Parents often pay hefty sums for these additional services, increasing the inequality of opportunities and division in the classroom, said the Council. In secondary education, two-thirds of schools have commercial providers offering homework support and about half exam training and tutoring.
"The private supply has many buyers and has been able to grow unimpeded, partly because the government did not intervene. School boards also give private providers space, without being sufficiently aware of the consequences," the Education Council said in its report. "The balance between public and private has tipped to one side. Private influences have gotten too big a hold on education."
The Education Council is not opposed to private provision as a whole, saying that it can provide "strengthening, improvement, and innovation" in education. But as things stand now, the private supply is threatening the public nature of education. The Council, therefore, advised a ban on advertising commercial services within schools. Pupils should not, for example, receive brochures for extra courses or discounts on exam training by email from their school, the Council said.