9 October 2019 • HOP, Bas Helleman
Governing parties say barriers to primary school teacher training should be removed
According to the governing parties, it needs to become easier to start primary school teacher training. They want to abolish the strict admission requirements that were introduced several years ago.
Four years ago, strict admission requirements were introduced that dictates that students need to have adequate prior knowledge of geography, history and science & technology. Warnings were issued at the time about the emerging teacher shortage and the problems that lower secondary education students (MBO) in particular would experience with the new requirements.
Primary school teacher training became whiter
Primary school teacher training programmes suddenly attracted far fewer first-year students. Students from non-western backgrounds, in particular, stayed away. Some quick arithmetic revealed that this was causing primary education to miss out on hundreds of teachers.
Nevertheless, politicians did not want to reconsider the stricter requirements for primary school teacher training. “We shouldn’t moan about this, instead we should just chew on these bitter seeds”, said an education spokesperson for the CDA party at the time. The requirements were supposed to increase the status of the teaching profession and improve the quality of the degree programmes.
However, the GroenLinks party, for instance, had other ideas. “The decline in primary school teacher training programmes is of idiotically huge proportions”, said their education spokesperson. “We started off on the wrong side. We should not reject students at the time of enrolment, but instead ensure that primary school teacher training programmes properly equip students for teaching at primary school level.”
This is now also the view of the coalition parties, according to De Telegraaf newspaper. They would like to abolish the enrolment requirements, as long as students can be brought to the right level during the degree programme.
The Dutch Parliament will debate the teacher shortage this afternoon with ministers Ingrid Katharina van Engelshoven and Arie Slob. Then the Parliament will also discuss this plan.
The stricter requirements did not come out of the blue. In the past, maths and language tests used to be compulsory in the degree programmes. However, the general opinion was that primary school teacher training programmes were below par. Sometimes graduates from these programmes were barely able to count and spell at group 8 level.