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Dutch gov’t compels school kids to visit Rembrandt, parliament at least once a year


By: Agence France-Presse

Compulsory viewings of Rembrandt’s masterpiece “The Night Watch” and visiting parliament at least once are some plans for schoolchildren to be brought in by the new Dutch government, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The incoming government also aims to introduce lessons about the Dutch national anthem, called the Wilhelmus, including the meaning of the text and the origins of the melody.

The latest proposals revealed by the popular daily tabloid De Telegraaf come as efforts in the Netherlands to cobble together a four-party coalition after the March elections drag on, weighed down by the search for tough compromises.

“Schools must take pupils at least once during their school years to visit parliament’s lower house and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam,” home to Rembrandt’s painting, De Telegraaf said.

“The four parties forming the coalition, the VVD, CDA, D66 and the Christian Union have reached an agreement on this,” the paper said, quoting insider sources.

The plans form part of a growing debate in the small lowlands country of some 17 million people about what the centre-right Christian-based CDA party refers to as “Dutch norms and values” and “Dutch identity.”

A strong proponent of the such ideas, CDA leader Sybrand Buma has even pleaded to make the singing of the Wilhelmus compulsory in Dutch schools but that was unlikely to happen, local newspapers reported last month.

The negotiations for the next government are likely to continue past October 9 and beat the current 208-day record set in 1977, political experts said this week.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD party won 33 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament in the March 15 polls.

But Rutte is now seeking to knit together a four-way coalition with the CDA, D66 and the CU to give his government a slender one-seat majority.

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