Fifty thousand euros. That is the amount that racism in education cost Ruşen Koç (25). In group 8, he received youth education counseling, although he could go to havo according to the CITO test. That, of course, was too ambitious for a Kurdish Dutchman, must have been the idea. Once in high school, his teachers also oppose a transition to HAVO. “The low expectations were a result of racism. It cost me two years of my life and a lot of money. Some days I can still get angry about it.”
They probably thought: such a Kurdish woman can not even read and write
It took years before he graduated from university. “In 2015, I dropped out of high school. In 2018, I started studying International Studies and History at Leiden University. To do this, I first had to obtain vavo certificates and an hbo propaedeutic certificate. I just fell into the student loan system, if I had taken HAVO right away, I would have received a basic grant. ” Koç experienced how great the consequences can be of expectations that are too low. This personal experience was the breeding ground for his foundation Education Advice Ouder & Kind (OOK), with which he, among other things, fights against inequality in education.
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take parents seriously
The OOK Foundation helps parents who do not understand the Dutch school system well. For example, volunteers from OOK arrange information evenings about Dutch teaching in, for example, Turkish and Arabic, they convey and translate into parent evenings and have personal consultations with parents. “We explain to parents how they can best help their children reach their goals. For example, that their son does not have to go to preschool if he wants to become a police officer. ”
If communication with the school is difficult, ALSO can seek a solution with the parents. It is important to take parents seriously, because their surroundings often do not, at Koç. The teachers looked not only at him, but also at his mother, he remembers. She tried to convince her teacher that Koç would do well in high school, but he did not listen to her. “They probably thought: such a Kurdish woman can not even read and write. While my mother is very intelligent; we had discussions at home about Marxism and economic issues. “
Koç is a fast and enthusiastic speaker. He was born in Schilderswijk in The Hague. At the age of six, he moved with his mother and brother to Wageningen and ended up at a white school there. “I was at home in The Hague, I was just one of the guys from the neighborhood. But in Wageningen, I felt how young I was that I did not belong. ” It did not matter to him. “As a child, I always shouted that I would leave the Netherlands later. When I look back on it, I think it’s sad. Where would I go? I had not seen any of the world yet. ”
At the vocational youth education in Wageningen, Koç received high marks and was bored. “My mother saw it and went to talk to the teacher, but again she was not listened to. After a few tries, she gave up. I was about thirteen years old at the time and had the feeling that I was alone in school. It felt very lonely. ”
Yet Koç sees himself as advantageous. “It all worked out for me. Now I feel responsible for new generations struggling with low expectations.”
Koç is not alone in guiding his parents: he has gathered a network of volunteers around him who talk to the parents. For how many initiatives focus on the children, for example with guidance or coaching, there is ALSO a focus on parents. “No one can motivate a child as well as she can.”
Koç is convinced that his school career would have been different if the teachers had listened better to his mother. Therefore, he also talks to teachers to help them in contact with parents with migration backgrounds. If he thinks a teacher is prejudiced, he will say so.
Koç’s activism, he says, stems from his Kurdish background. ‘The Kurds (a disadvantaged minority in Turkey, Syria and Iran, ed.) Have been under heavy pressure throughout their history. Activism and liberation are important concepts in Kurdish society. ” Islam also plays an important role in his choices. “My Creator is happy when I help people. And what he thinks about me is ultimately the most important thing.”
His drive sometimes gets in the way of Koç. ‘A few months ago I was on the verge of burnout. Then I cleared my agenda and booked a ticket to Greece. That afternoon I was on the plane. ” Not surprising when you consider that the Stichting OOK is one of his many projects. He also works for the research and consulting firm Labyrinth, holds courses at the ECHO Expertise Center Diversity Policy, is doing a master’s degree and is currently working on a clothing line. “Can you also mention that I am looking for volunteers for the ALSO Foundation?” he asks occasionally.
Influence of imaging
The long road that Koç traveled from pre-school to university has also brought him something positive beyond his large student debt: He is used to moving in different social strata. “It is therefore not a one-way street for me: I hope in the end to be able to use everything I learned at university again to Schilderswijk in The Hague.”
And he does not, Koç emphasizes in anger at the teachers who looked down on him. “I am not a classic story of a less fortunate one who has worked his way up and now looks at his teachers or predecessors with anger. I try to focus on the future and the energy that strong people have around me. The love of people drives me, not the pain of my life. “
The OOK Foundation is still looking for volunteers who want to support the guidance of parents. For more information, visit https://ookonderwijsadvies.nl/vacatures/.
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