Education Minister Dennis Wiersma believes the abolition of voluntary parental contribution at elementary schools is worth considering. Several education, student, and parent organizations submitted a motion to that effect on Friday to the Tweede Kamer, which will discuss it with the minister next week. They believe that the contribution promotes inequality. In addition, the organizations believe it is unfair that parents have to pay extra for digital learning tools such as laptops and tablets.
“There are schools that act as if this parental contribution is not voluntary,” said Wiersma, who is angry about this. According to the minister, the contribution is sometimes also used as a selection criterion for students. “That’s already not allowed by law. So it’s a matter of enforcing that.” The minister said he is still looking for the “best way” to intervene further, keeping all options open, including abolishing the contribution.
The minister pointed out that he is already allocating hundreds of millions of additional euros to combat inequality of opportunity in education. Among other things, this money goes to schools that offer their students extra activities such as tutoring or a hands-on lesson with an entrepreneur. Wiersma is ready to “do anything” if more proves necessary. The minister claimed that several reports have been written about the parent contribution and he still wants to make a careful decision about it.
“I think it means that more money is needed,” Wiersma said about eliminating the parental contribution. That’s because the state would then have to step in to organize class trips, for example. “I understand that the parties always agree on education,” he stated.
Wiersma thinks it’s a “good argument” that the Association for Public Education, the PO Council, VO Council, AOb, LAKS, and other organizations are making about digital learning tools. In their letter to the Tweede Kamer, they wrote that their purchase leads to high school costs and thus more inequality. The minister is considering how to make such learning tools affordable for children from poor families. Furthermore, he is still considering whether there should be a provision for all students or only for those with less affluent parents. The latter was the practice when students needed tablets and laptops for homeschooling during the coronavirus pandemic.