Lessons began at Amsterdam's controversial new Islamic secondary school on Tuesday but there were no more than 50 pupils, broadcaster RTL said.

That is well down on the 186 pupils which the school authorities had expected and which was used by the education ministry to base the school's funding on, RTL said.

Both the city council and education minister Sander Dekker had tried to prevent the school from opening but lost their legal battle during the summer. A number of Amsterdam's Islamic primary schools also urged parents not to send their children to the school because of the board's lack of experience in education.

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