Two schools in the Netherlands have resorted to knocking door-to-door to get white children to sign up in order to prevent their closure, blaming segregation in the Dutch education system.
Around 100 youngsters from Arab, Turkish and African backgrounds were accompanied by their parents and teachers demanding they have native Dutch children in their classes, saying it is important to allow them to integrate, AFP reports.
The protestors were wearing bright white t-shirts emblazoned with “Is this white enough for you?” as they tried to sign up new students for De Avonturijn and Catharinaschool in southern Amsterdam.
The group handed out leaflets and rang on doorbells saying: “we’re looking for white pupils.”
More than 90 per cent of the schools’ pupils are from immigrant backgrounds with the number of new pupils signing up on a downward trend.
Two children attending the event were Annelies, 10, and her friend Aminata, 11, who have been friends since nursery. Wearing tops saying “All children have the right to integrate” the Dutch girl and her friend whose family came to the Netherlands from Africa.
They told reporters they “want more white children in the school to learn about each other’s cultures,” saying it was “important for later [in life]”.
“When we’re grown up we will have to deal with different cultures, we should already start learning to live together.”
“At the moment there’s only one boy in our class who is 100 per cent Dutch, although we live in a mixed neighbourhood, it’s ridiculous,” Dutch Annelies said.
Some in the country have said that is a damning indictment of the increase in racist attitudes that schools which are considered ‘black’ are avoided by Dutch families.
“It’s shameful that it’s come to this, that children have to take to the street to go to school with white children,” said one of the area’s residents who came from the former Dutch colony of Suriname.
The 80-year-old blamed parents who take their children out of what Dutch media call “black schools”, saying “It’s racism and I’m ashamed.”
But others are more understanding of the situation, with a spokeswoman from the schools saying that parents had a right to decide who their children went to school with.
“When, for different reasons, a school ‘becomes blacker’, it’s very difficult to reverse the trend,” said Diane Middelkoop.
“White children’s parents no longer want to be part of the school. I can understand that: we all want to feel at home and that means that we want to see people who share our origins and culture,” she said.
In comparison, Majda Khatibi 35-year-old mother and housewife said “I want my children to be integrated in Dutch society and to learn about different cultures.”
The Netherlands are insistent that immigrants take part in Dutch society, learning the language and taking an exam to stop enclaves of migrant communities which have blighted other countries including France and Britain.
But as the number of immigrants has increased so has the popularity of more right wing parties. These include anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders who says immigrants do not do enough to integrate.