Updated 2020. Nicolette Baan

Overview of the Education System

  • Primary school is Group 1 (4 years) to 8 (11 years). Compulsory schooling age is 5-16, but practically everyone starts at age 4. Preschool is optional.
  • There is a big test for secondary school choice in group 8 at 11 years.

Secondary school 3 tier-system:

  • VMBO: Pre vocational training lasts 4 years, in 3 levels from more practical to more theoretical. Exam is in year 4 and qualifies one for Vocational training (MBO, 2-4 years).
  • HAVO: Higher education lasts 5 years. Exam is in year 5 and qualifies one for Higher Vocational College (HBO – 4 years).
  • VWO: pre-university education lasts 6 years. Exam is in year 6 and qualifies one for University (WO 5-6 years).

In both HAVO and VWO, you choose at the end of year 3 for a focus in which you graduate: a) bio-technical, b) math-technical, c) economic d) social/art/language. English and Maths are compulsory. At VWO a 2nd foreign language is compulsory.

In-country Resources

Cultural differences for teachers to know about

Dutch kids are used to group conversations, are stimulated to speak their mind.

Dutch kids can be egalitarian, sometimes less respectful towards authority; they debate with their parents, will discuss and understand rules (then they abide by them)

Dutch kids are allowed to explore risks within boundaries, are more easily left alone at home or walk/bike to school by themselves, are stimulated to solve their own problem and learn by experience (eg play with fire, try alcohol, earn some pocket money)

Dutch kids tend to feel individual and unique, less group oriented than in collective cultures; this can also lead to loneliness and bullying. On the other hand: be part of the youth culture such as certain fashion clothes, music, social media etc.

Challenges/recommendations for MKs on furlough

Challenge: Returning to an individualist culture where you have to solve your own problems — nobody helps.

Recommendation: Join a group sport, go on a church camp. Meet other MKs (https://www.missienederland.nl/netwerken/thirdculturekids).

Challenges/recommendations for MKs returning to passport country for university

During the last furlough before re-entry:

British system: get 3 A-levels
American system: get 3 AP’s
IB system: do Higher Level in subjects depending on the uni (maths & physics for technical studies)
All systems: get NT1 or 2 levels in Dutch, or entry exam Dutch, or Dutch secondary exam

Once in uni: Become member of a Christian student association: IFES, Ichtus, Navigators.

DUWO helps you to find housing. General student housing: https://www.duwo.nl/en/