The Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has announced it will strongly reduce the national budget for professional development of volunteer organisations.
- Today state funding helps secure more than 2,150 training courses annually for more than 32,000 volunteers,
- The current trend in the Netherlands of further decentralising budgetary allocations and decisions with up to 50% of the educaitonal budget in 2008 is not likely to improve local professional development. This has already been indicated in the VNG,
- The result will be a reduction of support to nationally organised professional development: due to the reallocation of money from central to local level in 2007 only 8,000 can be trained.
This measure implicates that the last national subsidy for non-formal adult education will disappear in 2009, citizens will be relying on local grants and adult education organisations are forced to operate as commercial business agencies. In the last decade other adult education organisations as local adult education centres, folkhighschools, social.-cultural work and centres for art and culture has already lost the national financial support.
In 2006 Dutch volunteer organisations and the residential adult education centres have been faced with a reduced Government Budget, in which support for professional development of volunteer organisations in 2007 with is cut with 25% and in 2008 with 50%.
Starting from 2009 no guarantee is given concerning a minimum scope of the budget. Concretely this means 25% less trainings at the residential adult education centres Blooming, Fnv-Formaat, Odyssee, SBI, Sisko and Stavoor. In 2008, the number of trainings is even halved! This proposal comes like lighting from a blue sky.
Still in 2005 the residential adult education centres were involved in joint studies into the importance, the nature, the impact and the appreciation of nationally organised training seminars for volunteer organisations. On the basis of the results of these surveys the residential adult education centres were still in negotiation with the ministry concerning future forms of financing, scope and management, and also over the importance of involving volunteer organisations at the design of further future plans.
The ministry has decided not to await the results of these conversations and has unilaterally decided to drasctic budget cuts. On top of this the ministry claims this is no budget cut, but a reallocation of resources. The resources which are released by the 25% and 50% reductions on national professional development of volunteers are put within the lump sum financing of a new legal framework, the WMO (Law on Social Support), to the municipalities and available for facilitating local forms of professional development. But the municipalities and their umbrella organisation VNG have already announced that they will give no account concerning the spending of these extra resources. Divided over more than 500 municipalities the amount is too small to have any impact.
This is the strongest counter argument: if the funding is not divided over 500 municipalities, but coordniated centrally, 32,342 volunteers can be trained yearly, and more than 2,150 trainings for volunteer organisations can be realised.
The Dutch Parliament has accepted the Governmental Budget and there are no indications that the new Government will change this decision.
J.Klercq, Odyssee, The Netherlands
Vice-president of EAEA