Dutch language education to displaced Ukrainians | Berenschot news

Provision of Dutch language education to displaced Ukrainians is not future proof

Provision of Dutch language education to displaced Ukrainians is not future proof

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05 September 2023

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Displaced Ukrainian adults need access to Dutch language classes if they are to do well in society and find long term employment or education and training. In late 2022, Berenschot conducted its first survey on the provision of education for displaced Ukrainian adults, on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Education Culture and Science (OCW). In the second edition of the survey, over half of Dutch municipalities once again indicated that the current funding options are (totally) inadequate. They also mention a great need for structural management agreements.

Things might change

Funding for formal education is generally regulated under the Dutch Act on education and vocational training  [WEB]. When it comes to funding non-formal education, municipalities regularly draw both on centrally funded specific benefits (known as SPUK) and on their own funds.

“In this respect the situation is still the same as in the previous survey,” says Saraï Sapulete, managing consultant at Berenschot. “In early 2023, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment announced that EUR 15 million would be made available to municipalities to provide Dutch language courses for displaced Ukrainians. This might change things and we will of course continue to monitor developments.” A total of 82 municipalities and 47 providers took part in the second survey.

Additional inflow

Given the expected high additional inflow (a net total of 47,500 displaced persons in the Netherlands in 2023) and the existing staff shortages, it remains to be seen whether the provision of Dutch language education is sufficiently future-proof.

“The staff shortage issue is impacting not just the numbers of professionals qualified to teach Dutch as a second language (NT2) but also staffing in the broader context of policy officers and voluntary organisations. So extra budget does not translate automatically to extra supply. Which is why we are repeating the conclusion of our first survey: what’s needed is not just additional resources, but also a more structural management approach to language education for displaced Ukrainians to ensure that municipalities can shape their policies in line with national policy.”

Shortage of capacity

Municipalities provide mostly non-formal education to displaced adult Ukrainians, often in combination with formal and informal courses. Sapulete: “Our previous in-depth research showed that many of the language courses available were provided by volunteers, since this could be more easily organised at short notice. In the current survey we’re also seeing a substantial share of non-formal education being given by professionals.”

Demand is high: on average there are around 60 participants per supplier of the non-formal courses. “Intermediate vocational training institutions (MBO) that offer non-formal courses with professionals are reporting long waiting lists. The first in-depth research demonstrated the huge challenge posed by the shortage of NT2 teachers in this respect,” says Sapulete. “Now we’re are also seeing signs that capacity is very tight in non-formal language courses given by volunteers through, for instance, welfare organisations and libraries.”