Greetings, lovers of Dutchness. It is I, Frank, with your daily dose of Dutch news.
And speaking of Dutch traditions that are gradually disappearing: less and less school are putting schoolzwemmen into practice. Schoolzwemmen (‘school swimming’) is when schools send their pupils to swimming lessons during class hours and which, depending on how confident or extroverted you were as a child, was either a glorious release from boring history lessons, or pure hell. Children of around the age of six were send, often with buses, to a nearby swimming pool to learn basic swimming skills. They even gave us a diploma for that stuff, I tell you, the early nineties were awesome! But unfortunately, uncle Capitalism peaks its ugly head around the corner: government funding cuts are among the primal reasons why schools stop offering these possibly life-saving lessons. Whereas 90% of the schools had weekly swimming classes twenty years ago, only 20% of the schools offer them now.
In other school-related news, come 2015, Dutch students will be able to take Chinese for their high school exams. Whereas we previously had to choose between mostly European languages such as German, French, Spanish, Greek, and Latin (aka: the language that is so dead that not even George Romero would make a movie about it), secretary of state Dekkers has approved of this wild and radical new idea. It is expected that several dozens of schools will offer this as a final course, but none will make it mandatory. (More like ‘Mandarin-tory’, get it? Get it? Oh, screw it…).
Moving on from gymnastic to language to history: the remains of a Neanderthal encampment has been discovered near the city of Den Bosch. Researchers estimate that the encampment is between 40,000 and 70,000 years old. No word if the government is trying to track down their descendants and charge them for illegal settlement.
Enough craziness for one day. On to the weather report: