Title: The Ongoing Teacher Shortage in Dutch Schools: A Looming Crisis for Students
As students prepare to return to school after the summer holidays, the Dutch education system is grappling with a severe shortage of teachers, leading to concerns about the quality of education. Thousands of vacant positions remain unfilled, leaving students as the victims of this alarming situation. The Dutch and Mathematics Chairman of the Secondary Education Council, Henk Hagoort, highlights the acute shortage in subjects like Dutch and mathematics, which are considered fundamental skills for students. Despite schools’ efforts to prevent class cancellations, the problem persists, and the shortage is not expected to be resolved quickly. This article examines the reasons behind the teacher shortage, its impact on education, and potential long-term solutions.
The first students will go back to school after the summer holidays on Monday. nonetheless, due to the teacher shortage, not all subjects can be taught at full capacity. “We have been warning about this for a long time,” says vice-chairman AOb Jelmer Evers.
Thousands of jobs cannot be filled, which means that the students are the victims.
Dutch and Mathematics
Chairman of the Secondary Education Council Henk Hagoort also sees that the shortages in education are very large. In secondary education it differs per subject, especially Dutch and mathematics, according to him. “Those are basic skills, so that makes it all the more difficult.”
Schools make every effort to prevent lessons from being canceled and try to ensure that students get enough hours for a subject, says Hagoort. “I am sure that many school leaders are doing their utmost to eliminate all shortages these days, but that will not work everywhere. The problem did not arise yesterday and will not be solved tomorrow.”
“It gets worse every year with the teacher shortage,” notes Evers. “The action plans have been plasters. That is very much about work pressure and the number of lessons. The autonomy of teachers has shrunk enormously. You don’t want that. The action plans of the ministers do not protect the teachers. It is a circus that has been spent a lot of money It is also unclear where funds have gone. The schools and boards that are doing well are also suffering from this.”
According to Evers, the fact that we now have far fewer teachers is the sour fruit of past policy. “For years, the salary has not increased and as a result, the intake for the programs has lagged behind.”
Feedback, workload and salary
The outflow of new teachers is also very high. Many young teachers stop teaching after a few years. According to Hagoort, this has to do with the pressure and the speed of being put in front of the class, while there is no manpower to guide them and the low salaries. “The young generation needs direct feedback. They want to know how they are doing and how they can improve their lessons. We must try to provide that. And an attractive profession also includes an attractive salary”
“Teachers in training are allowed to teach less, but 30 percent are not given that opportunity. It can now be an excuse that those schools also have their hands in her. But we have been warning about this for a long time and that was not the case in the past. argument,” says Evers.
There are also major differences between the schools themselves, even within the same region, says Hagoort. He therefore hopes that several schools from the region will sit together to share the scarcity. “Agreements are already being made about this, but there is always room for more.”
What is a poor idea, according to Hagoort, is making the classes bigger. Personally, he thinks that the number of pupils should not exceed 25. “You shouldn’t actually exceed that. But of course that will happen, also under pressure from the teacher shortage.”
A larger class has an impact on the student, but also on the teacher. With more children in the class, the profession becomes unattractive and that is what you want to prevent, Hagoort emphasises. “You should not affect the attractiveness of the profession and you also want to maintain the quality of education as much as possible.”
According to the VO council chairman, various solutions can be devised for this. He is thinking of making the routes to a qualification faster, deploying teachers for different subjects, outsourcing certain tasks and reducing teaching time. “Compared to teachers in other countries, Dutch teachers give a lot of teaching hours and Dutch students also get a lot of teaching hours. You call that teaching time. I think you would make the subject more attractive if you reduce that teaching time and then get better quality lessons as a result.”
Long term solutions
According to Evers, the fact that schools work with emergency measures to continue teaching is acceptable if it is for a limited period. “I understand the choice for teaching weeks of four days and the temporary suspension of courses. But then a solution must also be found in the long term. At the moment, that long-term perspective is often not there.”
According to Evers, there is an important task for a new cabinet. “You have to set standards for the quality of education and enforce them. That is not happening now. That was changed by a new bill, which does discuss personnel policy. I hope that a new cabinet will continue it.”
To enforce a better wage, teachers in primary and secondary education will strike on October 5. The wage offer of the outgoing cabinet was 5 percent and the unions consider that insufficient.
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