photo: Pixabay

AMSTERDAM – The new school year is just about to begin but twelve year old Gabriella from Amsterdam has not been enrolled at any school. If it were up to her, she would be heading to a VMBO-kader school, just as her Cito score indicated she would be able to, unfortunately she can’t.

Since 2015, the school’s own final advice has been the determining factor on where a student gets to continue their secondary education in the Netherlands. For Gabriella this means a VMBO-basis advice with an additional special needs (Lwoo) annotation. According to Varida Omzigt, Gabriella’s mom, this is a case of a diminished advice. And her daughter is not the only one who’s suffering because of this.

More than one hundred cases
A survey on Caribbean Network’s social media platforms about diminished advices turned up more than one hundred cases within the Caribbean community in the Netherlands. Stories such as: “My daughter received a havo-advice, while she had been getting a havo/vwo-advices all the way through the seventh grade. She got gymnasium level scores on the Cito-exam, but the teacher refused to change the given advice.”

Leroy Lucas , and Varida Omzigt also share their stories. Varida is willing to move mountains to get her daughter’s final school advice changed so that she can go to the VMBO-kader. For Leroy, it’s already too late. The forty year old looks back at the strenuous road he had to take to enroll at a university of applied sciences due to a diminished advice.

Listen to Leroy, and Gabriella’s stories

Natasja Gibbs set out to investigate the impact that diminished advices are having on the Caribbean community. All the stories and findings can be heard in the podcast (Dutch spoken) Koninkrijkskwesties  by NPO Radio 1.Listen to this podcast  | Subscribe through iTunes

The Onderwijs Consumenten Organisatie (OCO) in Amsterdam noticed once more that there are a lot of parents who are concerned with the transition between primary, and secondary education of their children. Between January, and June the organization received 300 questions about this topic. “Of those 300 questions, 67 were about the final school advice. And it was not to tell us how ecstatic they were with it”, says researcher, and knowledge coordinator Kaja Sariwati.

According to activists from the movement Wit Aan Zet ‘ethnic profiling plays a major role in the diminished advice given to students’. Concrete numbers to back this up are not available . “It would be very handy if these existed but they don’t. We could provide everyone with more clarity on the subject “, says OCO.

Education of parents
A research report by the Inspectorate of Education (The state of Education in the Netherlands 2016-2017) does reveal a correlation between the education level of the parents and the final school advice given to the children. Students with lower educated parents receive lower final advices than those who have higher educated parents but received the same scores throughout the year. Additionally the final advices of students with lower educated parents are adjusted less often than those of students with higher educated parents.

Subscribe to the podcast now

Caribbean Network (NTR) produces the radio series Koninkrijkskwesties in conjunction with NPO Radio 1. Subscribing is easily done through iTunes. Natasja Gibbs, and John Samson inform you on different topics such as growing up without a dad, politics, intimidation within a small island community, and the role Papiamentu plays in your upbringing.