29 August 2016, The Netherlands

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29 August 2016, The Netherlands

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Vocational education and training ( VET)

The structure of the vocational education and training (Wet educatie en beroepsonderwijs, WEB) leaves limited room for individual development and does not sufficiently take individual needs and achievements into account as is set out by the goals education has to fulfil under international law. Flexibility in the vocational curriculum is necessary to accommodate all students according to their different needs and talents and to prevent dropping out of education.

Although the government encourages schools to reduce their dropout rates by rewarding them financially if they manage to decrease dropout rates, this approach has a setback: it is not financially attractive for schools to admit students considered to be at risk of dropping out. Schools therefore profile students based on age, handicap or school history making those student vulnerable to non-admittance (often without motivated and/or written decision) in violation of the right of education. The law governing vocational education and training does not provide for effective legal protection in the event of non-admittance. There are no clear rules governing the admission (or refusal) of students with the appropriate pre-education certificates. Complaints procedures are not mandatory unlike other tertiary education systems as universities (of Applied Sciences).

Furthermore there exists inequality in the financial support students are provided for by way of the government. Education is free of charge for minors (younger than 18 years old) at the secondary VET education level, but not so at the tertiary level of VET education. In addition the government has amended their tuition program for students aged 18-30 years old. Previous to 2015 the fellowship system (studiebeurs) consisted of part loan, part gift (a part that need not be reimbursed). Since 2015 the fellowship system consists solely of a loan increasing the amount of debt related to education despite the duty to progressively introduce free education at secondary and tertiary level. To be educated has become more expensive instead. Less students have enrolled in higher education since, especially students whose parents are less educated and students with disabilities.240

Recommendation 49:

The submitting parties recommend the Committee call upon Dutch government to:

  • provide for flexibility of the educational and training program that respect different needs of students and prevents dropouts;

  • provide for effective legal remedies with regard to admittance, in addition to a mandatory complaints mechanism;

  • to monitor and research effects of fellowship program with regard to accessibility of higher education

  1. Discrimination of pregnant students in college and higher education

Pregnant students and single mothers are not provided with remedies or accommodations to enable them to combine education and care. Non-admittance because of care for children or pregnancy is prevalent.241 Dropout rates are excessively high: 50% at the vocational educational and training level (VET / MBO) and 75% at university level. When the issue has been brought to the attention of the Minister of Education, the minister argued that accessibility was not an issue for the government but for the educational institutions to solve as they are responsible for compliance with laws surrounding equal treatment and accommodation for pregnant students and student mothers. These issues have to be dealt with through lodging a complaint. 242 It is recalled here, as noted above, that schools for VET are not required to establish a complaints procedure. Effective legal protection is lacking.

Recommendation 50:

The submitting parties recommends the Committee to:

  • ask the government what effective measures it intends to take to ensure single mothers and pregnant students are not discriminated against.

  • call upon the government to ensure that educational institutions provide for reasonable accommodations to pregnant and single mothers, preferably by legislation.

  1. Right to education for asylum seekers and irregular migrants

Undocumented adult migrants are not allowed to start education after their 18th birthday.243 Irregular migrants are sometimes denied education when they reach the age of 18 year, or they are not allowed to continue the same education in a similar school in another city, because the schools are insufficiently aware of their right to education. This hinders their personal development and their future employment opportunities244 and may lead to unwanted health consequences.245 These negative consequences are especially harmful for undocumented migrants who are in the process of obtaining a residence permit during which they are allowed to stay in the Netherlands, or those who are still in a government shelter (rejected asylum seekers in freedom restricted departure centres).

Unaccompanied minors who have been refused asylum retain their right to shelter, food and education. However, they have no right to an identity document246 and are not provided with an alternative identity document. Lack of identity documents are much needed to ensure the right to education for a number of reasons: mandatory internships which require a background check, to obtain public transport season tickets to travel to school or a library membership.247 It also creates difficulties to receive a valid diploma resulting in deprivation of the positive effects of a successfully completed education.

In higher education, especially VET, internships are mandatory. Without internship, no diploma. In the previous reporting cycle it was reported that undocumented students could not fulfil this requirement because it was qualified as ‘work’. In 2012 a district court decided that this violated the right to education.248Despite this verdict the government has not amended the law.249 As a result the violation of education of undocumented students is still being violated in many instances.

Recommendation 51:

The submitting parties recommend the Committee to ask the Dutch government to review laws on access to education and internships for undocumented migrants, asylum seekers, migrants who are in a regularisation procedure or in an government shelter.

The submitting parties recommend the Committee to recommend to the Dutch government to provide minors whose asylum claim have been rejected with an identity document so they can effectively ensure profit form their right to education.

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  • Discrimination of pregnant students in college and higher education
  • Right to education for asylum seekers and irregular migrants

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