Monday, October 15, 2007

Going Dutch

It’s a beautiful, crowded part of the planet. A prosperous country, in the Unicef survey on ‘child happiness’ it came top, partly due to parents close relationships with their children and the lack of exam pressure in schools.

Children stay in primary schools until they are twelve and then take a test that will determine whether they follow a vocational or academic path at secondary level.

Schools have a large degree of independence and the provinces have been stripped of any control, but as in England central government sends out reams of circulars. The pressure falls on headteachers and there is a national shortage of heads.

The integration of the Muslim minority has been controversial and new language tests are being introduced for immigrants.

I was staying in a prosperous small town, but with rising house prices young people are forced to move out. You can get a false picture, while I was there a 14 year old was stabbed to death at a school in Amsterdam.

What is clear is that there aren’t the same stress levels amongst children and as the most cycle friendly country in the world they should keep obesity at bay.


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