It’s not allowed, but schools get away with it: schools demanding a tablet with a laptop from students
High schools are making laptops more and more mandatory, while this is prohibited by law. Many parents hate high costs. “The schools get away with it,” says Stichting Leergeld.
The schools for secondary education have been unsuccessfully asking the government for funding for the school laptops for years. In the meantime, the digitization of education is steadily continuing. “Parents are the victims of this stalemate,” says Van den Biggelaar. She sees how the local departments of Leergeld are being overcharged as the demand for laptops, chromebooks and iPads for school use is increasing all over the country. “From a simple second-hand thing to an Apple that can cost up to 1,000 euros.”
Stichting Leergeld affects many such worried parents. Although mandatory, many school sites state that having such a device is essential to participate in education. “Have you already arranged a laptop for your son or daughter?”, Says for example the site of the Van Maerlant in Den Bosch. When asked, school director Tiny de Groot says that purchasing it “is not mandatory”. “We do indicate that it is advantageous to take a laptop that is fully equipped for our education.”
“Each student will have to have their own laptop that must meet certain requirements,” wrote high school ‘t Hooghe Landt in Amersfoort in a letter to the parents of the new first graders in June. Like many other schools, ‘t Hooghe Landt refers to The Rent Company, a company that rents out laptops to students from more than five hundred schools for an amount of between 8 and 15 euros per month. But also ‘t Hooghe Landt said when inquired that having a laptop for the students is “not mandatory”, but “desirable”.
Inequality of opportunity
“Because the government does not deliver, schools sometimes push the boundaries,” says Paul Rosenmöller of the VO Council. “Schools must make it explicit that the purchase is voluntary, we hold them accountable for that.” He believes that education is in a dilemma. Laptops have become necessary for contemporary education in a digitizing society, he says. “But this should not lead to more inequality in education opportunities.”
Secondary schools receive more than 300 euros from the government for teaching materials per pupil. The ministry of education does not want to reimburse digital resources. “A laptop is not covered by the definition of teaching material because it is only a carrier of information,” said a ministry spokesman. “If schools make the use of laptops compulsory, they have to pay for it themselves. The starting point is that every student should be able to attend free education. “
A majority of the House of Representatives thinks that the government should reconsider this: whether laptops and tablets should be covered by reimbursable educational materials. A motion to that effect by GroenLinks was passed earlier this summer.
“This should be sorted out,” said Rosenmöller on behalf of secondary schools. According to the Ministry of Education, a laptop is only an information carrier, the chair of the VO Council calls a “kulargument”, “a definition from the last century”.
Rosenmöller hopes that the practice in the corona crisis will lead to an accelerated solution. “When the schools closed on March 17, the Cabinet allocated money for laptops for school children, then it was suddenly possible. Structural funding must be arranged in a coalition agreement of the next Cabinet. “
Huisman, C. (2020, 9 september). Een tablet of laptop eisen van leerlingen − het mag niet, maar scholen komen ermee weg. de Volkskrant. https://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achtergrond/een-tablet-of-laptop-eisen-van-leerlingen-het-mag-niet-maar-scholen-komen-ermee-weg~b7b3b812/