Billions of dollars the Cabinet invests in education to eliminate corona backlog. Make that money structural, say some parties in the House of Representatives. But above all: make more visible where the money is going. This was evident today in a debate in the Chamber about the EUR 8.5 billion injection which is the National Education Programme.
Not everyone in the Chamber is convinced that the billions can solve the huge problems quickly. Among other things, the criticism focuses on the lack of an elaboration of the plans. “We don‘t really know anything at all,” said SP MP Kwint.
There have been reservations since the demissionary ministers Slob and Van Engelshoven came up with their plan in mid-February. For example, about the short time in which schools are allowed to spend the money (why not spend more years?) and the complicated rules and accountability that schools have to comply with.
Those rules have come in exchange for the freedom that schools have to decide for themselves what they spend the money on. Many schools will want to spend the money on new teachers, but with extra money you have not just opened up a new gaze of teachers, sees part of the Chamber.
Clump in the reeds
This worries several parties. “How can we prevent us from sitting here in two years and conclude that we don’t know where the money ended up?” said Groenleft-MP Westerveld. PV member of the parliament Beertema said that he was afraid that it turned out that the Chamber was sent in a lump of reeds. “We have a responsibility here for the taxpayers‘ money and how we spend it.”
CDA’er Peters said he gets “footage from the field” that the 8.5 billion cannot be spent in two years. Why not spend more years, he suggested, for example, four or five? Planning agencies and scientists gave a similar warning earlier. The Court of Auditors called the plan too vague and warned against abuse and arbitrariness.
In the debate, Minister Slob rejected the fact that schools should be given the opportunity to develop their plans. “In the spring of 2022 we have more data. Let us now also let schools get to work.”
Slob received a response from Gert-Jan Segers, group chairman of his own Christian Union. Segers explicitly asked about the possibility of adjusting the Chamber in 2022. “Otherwise we would be sitting here before Jan with the short surname.”
The minister solemnly promised that there will be more visibility, and that everything will be followed and monitored. He comes after the summer recess with a first progress report. In the spring of 2022 there will be an intermediate stand, so that the Court can contribute to deciding on the amounts that will then be deployed
A majority of the parties appeared to accept this. “Not everything is measurable in education,” said D66-MP Van Meenen. He called the billion-dollar injection an excellent opportunity to help children. “It is the most vulnerable who have been hardest hit by the crisis.”
According to Van Meenen, it is important that more money is also structurally reserved for education in the cabinet formation. “Only then can the crisis of opportunity that has now arisen and the lack of teachers really be combated.”