Dutch learners' exam postponed after questions revealed online

The national exam in Dutch as a second language has been postponed after details of the test paper were found on social media. Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said in a letter to parliament that questions from past papers were being shared on chat forums by former candidates. 'Candidates who know the questions have an advantage,' she wrote. 'That is not what we want. Everybody must be given an equal chance.' The national exams authority CvTE said it was investigating how candidates were able to memorise details of the test papers so easily. The written exam has been cancelled and rescheduled for January 1. Candidates who needed to pass the test to meet their integration (inburgering) criteria have had their deadline extended accordingly. The other three elements of the test – listening, speaking and reading – are not affected.  More >

Children losing touch with divorced dads

One in five people whose parents divorce during their childhood lose touch with at least one of the partners, according to a study. Fathers are overwhelmingly more likely to drop out of the picture because custody has tended to be awarded to mothers, the statistics agency CBS said. The study, carried out in 2017 in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam, looked at the effect of divorce on people now aged between 25 and 46. 'It's likely that the split with the parents is initiated at an early stage,' CBS spokeswoman Tanja Traag told the Volkskrant. 'Because children more commonly grow up with their mothers, their fathers become more distant after divorce. Fathers often have better contact with the children of their new partners than with their own children.' The group's age profile coincides with the 'wave divorces' that followed changes in the law in 1971 to make it easier for couples to separate. Mothers were given custody in 73% of divorces involving children born in the 1970s, but the figure fell to 63% in the 1980s, as joint custody arrangements became more common.  More >

Donor children to get free DNA test

Children who are born as a result of IVF treatment with sperm donated anonymously could be offered a free DNA test under a plan being put before parliament on Wednesday. Coalition party ChristenUnie wants children of anonymous donors to be able to find out who their biological father is, public broadcaster NOS reports. Sperm banks have been banned from using anonymous donors since 2004 but some 40,000 children were conceived before the cut-off date. The proposal will be part of Wednesday's health budget discussions and is expected to have the support of most MPs. ‘Every child has a right to know who about his ancestry,' said ChristenUnie MP Carla Dik-Faber. 'It’s important for a sense of identity and could have a bearing on medical problems. That makes it a matter of principle for me and the cost should be no object.’ Donor children who register at the DNA databank have to pay €250 at the moment, while donors are compensated. Some 500 donors have registered until now and around 1000 donor children have put in a request for a DNA test. Recently the association for donor children complained to the Advertising Code Commission about adverts placed in the Netherlands by Spanish fertility clinic IVF Spain, which uses anonymous donors. The treatment takes place in Spain, which means it is not against Dutch law. ‘We think it is not a good thing that there are ads for things that are banned by law in the Netherlands,’ chairman of Stichting Donorkind Ties van der Meer told the AD. The Advertising Code Commission will rule on the matter on Thursday.  More >

Prime minister survives no confidence vote

The Labour party joined forces with the right wing populists PVV and FvD to support a motion of no confidence in prime minister Mark Rutte during Tuesday evening's debate on the government's revised tax plans. The motion, proposed by anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders, did not attract as many votes in terms of numbers as previous no-confidence votes, but the support of the Labour party is a blow to the prime minister, the NRC said in its analysis. 'The marriage between the VVD and PvdA ended at the last election but the friendship between VVD prime minister Mark Rutte and his former deputy Lodewijk Asscher is now on the rocks,' the paper said. Neither GroenLinks or 50Plus supported the motion of no confidence but the pro-animal PvdD and the Socialists did. Tuesday night's debate concentrated on the government's decision to scrap plans to abolish the tax on dividends and re-divide the 'savings' to industry. During the debate, Asscher repeatedly called on Rutte to apologise for the way he had tried to scrap the tax, which would have mainly benefited foreign firms. The fact that GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver refused to support the motion leaves a door open for his party to play the role of 'constructive opposition' if the coalition loses its majority in the senate next year, the NRC pointed out. Opinion polls predict heavy losses for the coalition in March's vote for the 12 provincial governments. However, that door is now closed to the Labour party, given that Asscher has ended the friendship, the NRC said.  More >

Dutch not prepared for flooding: Red Cross

Despite the fact that water level in the rivers is extremely low given the ongoing drought, the Red Cross is warning that the Dutch are insufficiently prepared for flooding, the AD reported on Wednesday. The Red Cross bases its conclusion on a poll among 762 people which showed 76% do not have the recommended emergency kit at home should floods occur. One in three said they have the requisite three litres of water per person per day in house but one in 10 said they have nothing at all. The Netherlands is vulnerable to both sea flooding, due to high tides and wind, as well river flooding caused by very heavy rain and melt water from the Alps. Some 25% of the country is below sea level. An emergency kit should contain at least 3 litres of water per person, non-perishable food, matches in a watertight container, candles, a battery operated radio and a torch, the AD said. Insurance company Neerlandse has seen an increase of ‘thousands’ in the number of people who take out an insurance against flood damage, especially among those who live near dykes and rivers. Other insurance companies are also going to offer flood insurance, the paper said. Extreme weather The UN panel on climate change IPCC issued a stark warning to the world to cap global warming to 1.5 degrees or face more extreme weather conditions earlier this month. According to the report, Western Europe, including the Netherlands, will be confronted with extremely high water levels in the event of a rise of two degrees of global temperatures. And a recent report by the Delta Commission said sea level could go up by one to two metres if global warming reaches two degrees.  More >

Firms fear rise in post-Brexit red tape

While 80% of Dutch firms expect Brexit to have an impact, half of them have no idea what to expect and have taken no action to deal with it, according to new research by the Dutch chambers of trade KvK. 'It would appear that companies are taking a 'wait and see' stance because of all the uncertainties,' chairwoman Claudia Zuiderwijk said. 'But whether there is a deal or no deal, doing business with Britain is going to change considerably.' One third of the company bosses polled said they expected that Brexit would damage their business prospects and seven in 10 are worried about increasing red tape. Other issues that concern people are levies and taxes (54%), import duties (51%), future differences in laws and regulations (51%), and delays at the border (49%), the survey showed. Last month, research by the foreign affairs ministry suggested just one in five Dutch firms which do business with Britain were ready for Brexit. Some 77,000 companies in the Netherlands do business with the UK, particularly those involved in the chemicals and food sectors. Earlier this year, the national statistics agency CBS said trade with the UK would appear to be stagnating because of Brexit. Research by DutchNews.nl last month also showed that 40% of British nationals living in the Netherlands had done nothing to regulate their post Brexit stay.  More >