A broad first year, more differentiation between students and more attention to diversity in and for the classroom, these are some of the most important recommendations from the Social Economic Council (SER) for combating inequality of opportunity within education. This is stated in the advice that the SER Friday brought out. The Council emphasizes the importance of delaying classification at educational level so that children are not separated from each other at the age of 11 and 12. However, this requires an investment in education: for differentiation within a broad first year, smaller classes are needed, so that teachers have enough time, according to the SER.
According to the Council, later separation of pupils ensures that children have more opportunities and that different socio-economic backgrounds remain together in the same network. According to the SER, it is important that children can develop in a safe and inclusive environment, in which knowledge of diversity and stereotyping is crucial for teachers. In addition to a broad first year, in which children are given longer time to find out which learning stream suits them, children who can make a choice at the age of twelve should also be given the opportunity to do so. The promotion of a healthy lifestyle in schools, for example through sports and nutrition, and equal opportunities for young people on the labor market and in internships are also developments that the Council encourages in its advice.
The advice is addressed to the outgoing ministers Ingrid van Engelshoven (Education, Culture and Science, D66) and Arie Slob (Primary and Secondary Education, CU). According to the SER, good education has the potential to combat inequality in society. At present, the function of schools as “great equalizer” however not used, the Council writes. “On the contrary.” For example, the current education system would ensure that vulnerable children and young people have fewer opportunities to develop in education. This subsequently also has an effect on their further career and life, for example in finding suitable accommodation and starting a family. The recommendations are intended to reduce this gap between children from different backgrounds. According to the Council, the corona crisis has only made and increased the inequality of opportunity between children.
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