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Major teacher shortages looming

September 22, 2011

By Omid Azadi

The HAGUE – The shortage of teaching staff has become an increasingly problematic issue in secondary schools across the Netherlands in recent years, a report by state secretary Halbe Zijlstra has concluded.

Although a positive turn of tides was confirmed in 2010, the future looks gloom as tough times are looming due to an increase in student enrollment and obsolescence in society.

Research conducted by the state on overall employment in the education sector concludes that a shortage of 4000 high schools teachers is expected in the coming years.

In the previous school year, there were approximately 950 vacant posts in high schools, down from 1070 the year before.

This decrease can be attributed to the economic recession, which has increased the appeal of employment in education as well as certain measures taken by the state to improve the situation of teachers.

However, in coming years, the labor markets and the secondary education system in particular will experience some dire times.

The state has estimated severe shortages by the year 2017 due to obsolescence, as many educators will retire when they will become eligible for their pension.

“We are on the right track, however, there is a lot that needs to be done to minimize the expected shortages and supply sufficient and highly educated teachers.” Zijlstra said.

The severity of the shortages is most prevalent in larger cities. Week against Loneliness kicks off Thursday

By Marlene Werner

AMSTERDAM – The second edition of the nationwide Week against Loneliness gets underway Thursday, Sept. 22.

About 30% of the Dutch population suffers from loneliness, research has shown.

“It is not a disgrace to be lonely,” said Prof. Dr. Jenny Gierveld of the VU University Amsterdam, an expert on loneliness. “Almost everyone is in his or her way lonely from time to time. If lonely people realize that, it may already be a little step in the alleviation of loneliness.”

‘Coalitie Erbij’, a national collaboration of thirty social organizations, hosts the event.

Festivities begin with a symposium on loneliness among the youths.

Experts on loneliness-research will then present their findings.

Toward the end, a collective panel discussion will explore the promises of ICT to improve the youth’s situation.

Participation is free of charge.

The focal point of this year’s edition is the prevention of loneliness and the strengthening of one’s direct circle of friends.

Related educational activities are guided by three aims: nurture your relationships, establish your friend-network, and invest in it, throughout your lifetime.

“Nowadays we, ourselves, are seen as responsible for our own happiness and giving meaning to our lives. Situations in which we experience loneliness are readily interpreted as personal failure in the current public eye,” said Malou Saat, director of ‘Sensoor’, a Utrecht-based public helpline.

“Loneliness is not a sign of personal failure, it can happen to everyone,” Saat said.

“In order to tackle loneliness, it is mandatory to help people suffering from loneliness. They should be included in organizations which offer relationship-services and host activities,” Prof. Gierveld said.

One such activity will take place on Saturday, Sept. 24, in connection with the Week against Loneliness and the national Neighbor-Day (‘Burendag’).

Nationwide, citizens are invited to eat together and thereby build collectively the “longest dining table in history.” Everyone is welcome to join.

Nationwide, citizens are invited to eat together and thereby build collectively the “longest dining table in history.” Everyone is welcome to join.

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