Netherlands: Over 4,000 schools close as teachers strike for a sustainable solution to funding crisis and staff shortages

published 6 November 2019 updated 18 November 2019

Schools in the Netherlands are struggling to pay their way, while a teacher shortage is getting worse and worse. The government offered a one-time €460 million boost, but teachers are standing firm for structural increases in funding that can preserve the profession and guarantee quality education for all in the Netherlands.

Like many European countries, the Netherlands is experiencing a slow-motion disaster in its teaching profession. Schools have suffered under grinding austerity for years. Staff shortages have increased enormously. Primary schools struggle to find teachers for their classes, combine classes or just put classes under the surveillance of a parent or other volunteer. Secondary schools are cancelling certain subjects. Burn out rates are rising in all education sectors.

Excessive workloads, a lack of funding and an unjustified pay gap between secondary and primary teachers have pushed many teachers and other education workers to leave the profession altogether. A forward-looking and long-term allocation of funding is vital to fight teacher shortages and make the teaching profession attractive.

After another year of campaigning and a national strike in March, with again no result, the unions called for a new strike on November 6. Last Friday, just a few days before the announced date, the government suddenly offered a one-time €460 million spending boost. But this long-standing crisis needs long-term solutions. Education International member organisation AOb is going ahead with a national strike today.

David Edwards, Education International General Secretary, expressed full solidarity with the strike, explaining that “austerity does not work. Education in the Netherlands is in dire need of a sustainable, long-term funding solution to attract and retain teachers and strengthen the system as a whole. This is not something that can be postponed. The Dutch government needs to act now!”

Currently 4,393 schools have announced they will be closed today. Visit the AOb strike website for the latest updates.

For more information, visit the ETUCE website.