Netherlands: Thousands walk out against school hours

Pupils demonstrate in Stadhuisplein
Pupils demonstrate in Stadhuisplein

Thousands of Dutch school pupils walked out of lessons on Friday in wildcat protests organised online against lesson times.

Submitted by Steven. on November 26, 2007

There were walk outs in at least 15 cities and there were a number of incidents, with 20 teenagers arrested. In Middelburg 500 pupils occupied a crossroads, after which they clashed with police with batons.

Word about the demonstrations - against the official 1,040 hours of lessons a year - was spread using MSN and email.

In Amsterdam over a thousand pupils from most of the city centre schools gathered on the Museumplein. News agency ANP said several cars were damaged. Giant chess pieces from the Max Euweplein were thrown at trams and into shops.

Three pupils were arrested in Raamsdonksveer in Noord-Brabant for vandalising a bus. In Eindhoven there were at least two arrests for throwing eggs and fireworks and in Purmerend around 200 pupils blocked roads and threw eggs at police. And in Roosendaal, pupils went on the rampage in the local council offices.

‘Now we have to have 1,040 hours of lessons a year schools are coming up with all sorts of fake lessons to fill in the time,’ one 14-year-old protestor in Amsterdam told

Teachers unions say they are unhappy with the protests but support the pupils' cause.

Government efforts to make sure schools meet the 1,040 hour legal obligation has led to ‘panic football’ in schools, a spokesman said. Ministers have said they will fine schools that don't hit the target.

The official union for school pupils was aware of the call but dismissed Friday's protests as ineffective. The union is planning a protest for next week to coincide with a parliamentary debate on the issue.