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More children are not going to school, ombudsman warns

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Children from migrant backgrounds are more likely to be sent to a lower-stream school. Photo: Depositphotos.com

More children are not going to school because they have health or other issues, or because of their parents’ (religious) principles, putting their rights under pressure, children’s ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer has said in a letter to education minister Mariëlle Paul.

Local council figures show some 7,389 children with a physical or mental impairment do not currently go to school compared to 5,077 children in 2014. That year a law obliging schools to provide fitting education to all children was introduced.

In addition, the number of children who stay at home because parents cannot find a school that suits their religious or other principles has gone up threefold to 7,771. This group also includes parents who see themselves as “autonomous” and who want nothing to do with institutions such as schools.

While some of these children are home-schooled, there is too little monitoring being done to check the quality of the education the children are getting at home, Kalverboer said.

The rights of children who are not getting any education at all are under serious pressure, the ombudsman said. They are being deprived of social contacts, she said, quoting research that these children are unhappy about their quality of life.

Kalverboer is calling on the minister to introduce new initiatives to help children who are not going to school and to make haste with extra support for these children in the classroom.

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