Schools pressed to boost reading, math levels
Dutch schools must improve their language and math lessons within two years, as well lessons on civics. The decline in these classes must at least stop, the Education Inspectorate said in a report titled The State of Education. Sweden and Ireland could achieve this, so the Netherlands should also be able to, the organization said.
The professionalism of teachers needs to be significantly improved. According to the Inspectorate, a third of schools say that their teachers' skills leave something to be desired. Most schools and colleges believe that professionalism should be addressed first. For example, 91 percent of primary schools say increased professionalism would help improve math lessons. Armed with more didactic and subject-specific knowledge, teachers would also enjoy their work more. This can lead to lower absenteeism.
The Inspectorate wants to implement improvements within the Rutte IV term in office. For pupils at pre-vocational secondary school, for example, two years is half of their entire training, so there must be pressure.
The Inspectorate stressed that education must prioritize the basic skills because they are needed to develop and maintain oneself in society. All kinds of other and new subjects are also important, but they are of little use if you cannot read well enough. More teaching time could help with the desired progress, the Inspectorate said.
Minister Dennis Wiersma (Education) said he would develop a "master plan to get the basics in order, with extra support for teachers." Teachers will receive a higher salary, less work pressure, and a "clear assignment for education," he said. The Minister added that he realizes "we cannot turn this around overnight, which is precisely why we have no time to lose."
In Ireland, basic skills bottomed out in 2009. The moment that penetrated to general public consciousness is still spoken of as the "big shock." The shock prompted a large-scale improvement campaign. Sweden also saw pupils' basic skills plummeted in 2012, but a targeted approach resulted in a turnaround on all fronts by 2015.