By Leon Menkshi
Parents in the Netherlands can chose to send their kids to which ever school they like. The result is that more white middle class Dutch parents chose a school of good reputation, with a majority of white kids, known differently as white schools. Some parents do that while their kids are even a few months old, just to make sure they have ‘the right’ schooling environment for them. But this all is about to change. Nijmegen, a city of rather large communities of Moroccans and Turkish immigrants, will be the first city in Holland to apply a new system, starting from September 2009.
Six associations of primary schools, agreed with the parents on a new scheme, for a more evenly distribution of the kids over different schools. The parents will loose their absolute choice, but they can still choose one out of six nearest schools around their neighborhood.The existence of so called 'black and white' schools is seen as a social problem in Holland, which hinders the integration of ethnic minorities in the society. The new system is expected to make a great impact in this regard and it will foster harmony among different communities.
“Our kids should know from childhood that not all the children are white” – says Jack Van de Logt, the principal of De lanteerne. With more than 500 kids, De lanteerne is one of the biggest schools in Nijmegen. Although it has a majority of white Dutch kids it is located in a mixed neighborhood of middle class Dutch families and families from ethnic minorities. The parents meet at De lanteerne when they pick up their kids from school. Not every one of them is affected by the new rules, but the ones with more than one child, who have already one kid in De lanteerne, worry if the new system means they have to choose a different school for the other kid. That way, they will have a hard time to fetch their kids from different schools. As Dolf Kutchenreuter, an adviser for the parent’s says: “Of course, not every parent is happy with the new system, but we hope it will end the so called black and white schools”.
For the kids the new system makes no difference. They have less prejudice than the adults, and they can easily adapt, accept and enjoy the company of each other. One day, when they’ll grow and understand more; they will be able to judge their parents preferences regarding the choice for their primary schooling. And who knows; for them the black and the white schools may be a “once upon a time” story.
first photo: pupils at "de lanteerne"
second photo: "de lanteerne" -frontal fasade
About this story:
This is one of my first features in English, which I wrote in 1996, for the "Euroviews" magazine (published in
About this story:
This article I wrote after I went to