04 SES 11 C, The Irresistible Rise of the Special Educational Needs Industry
Compared to many other European countries, the special education system in the Netherlands is extensive. In the past 50 years Dutch special education has developed into a wide-ranging system for students expected not to be able to attend regular schools. At one time there were 15 types of special schools for students with a range of different impairments. Fifteen years ago 4.2% of students between 4 and 11 attended a special education school (Pijl, 1997), while 30 years ago only 2.2% attended such a school (Meijer, Pijl & Kramer, 1989). This development – from 2.2 to 4.2 per cent in fifteen years – was primarily caused by the growth of two major special education school types: LOM schools, which cater for Mild Learning Disabled students and MLK schools, for Educable Mentally Retarded students. This practice of referring students with special needs to segregated special schools became increasingly criticized leading to new legislation. The Primary School Act of 1985 stated that the major goal of primary schools is to offer appropriate instruction to all students aged 4 to 12, and to guarantee all students an uninterrupted quality school career. However, in spite of the Act, expansion of segregated schools for special education continued.
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