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Netherlands Education and Training



The children have a compulsory schooling for full-time studies from the age of 5 to 16 and part-time for another two years. Almost all children, however, start school at the age of 4.

Around two-thirds of the schools are free schools, which like state schools are funded by the state. Free schools are often run by religious congregations.

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The compulsory school consists of two preparatory year courses and six regular school years. There are then three types of upper secondary schools of slightly different length: vocational, general and university preparation. The country has a relatively low proportion of students in theoretical education at the upper secondary level: just under a third compared to the EU average of just under half. Full-time education is subject to fees from the age of 18. State spending per pupil is lower than the EU average, but it does not affect pupils' results which are nonetheless competitive.

About one third of young people go on to higher education, mainly at one of the 14 state universities or the approximately 50 vocational education colleges.

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Proportion of children starting primary school

97.3 percent (2016)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

12 (2016)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

12.0 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

12.0 percent (2015)



Messy during demonstration

21 June

Police use water cannons to disperse protesters and arrest around 400 people in connection with protests against the government's way of dealing with the corona crisis. Reportedly, football hooligans are clashing with the police. The closure has generally been less strict in the Netherlands than in neighboring countries, but social distancing is still prohibited and crowds of more than 30 people are actually banned.


Some relief in quarantine rules

May 11

Students may return to primary schools when quarantine rules begin to be eased. However, only half as many children as previously allowed are gathered at one time, which means that the schools either run a morning and an afternoon session or let the children go every other day. The number of coronary cases confirmed in the country now amounts to approximately 43,000 and the number of deaths in covid-19 to 5,500.


The state is ordered to pay damages for colonial violence

March 26

A district court in The Hague condemns the state to pay damages to relatives of eleven men who were murdered in the 1940s by soldiers in Indonesia, which was then a Dutch colony. Compensation of between € 123 and 10,000 goes to eight widows and four children to the men. This is the first time that specific amounts have been awarded, despite the fact that countless similar goals have occurred.

Corona leads to extensive shutdowns

March 15th

The government is ordering closure of preschools, schools, bars, restaurants and many other activities to stop the spread of the new corona virus. The message that the coffeeshops that sell cannabis shut down completely causes long queues when people want to bunk. The decision to shut down is partly due to what Health Minister Bruno Bruins calls "café tourism" - since Belgium conducted a similar shutdown three days earlier, the congestion has been great in restaurants and bars in the southern part of the Netherlands, due to many Belgian visitors. So far, 20 deaths in covid-19 have been reported in the Netherlands and 1,135 people have been confirmed to be infected.

Apology to Indonesia for colonial violence

March 10

King Willem-Alexander apologizes to Indonesia for "overwhelming" during the independence struggle in the former colony in the 1940s. The excuse came unexpectedly and was made during a state visit to Jakarta, during a ceremony attended by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. The Dutch government has in the past publicly apologized for the mass murders committed by the army, but it is said to be the first time a monarch raised the issue.

Trial on a deferred plan in Ukraine

March 9

A lawsuit is being launched against three Russian citizens and a Ukrainian rebel leader suspected of shooting down a Malaysian passenger plane over Ukraine (see July 2014). The men, who are on the loose, are charged with murdering 298 people. According to prosecutors, it was a Russian-made robot that shot down the aircraft, from a rebel-controlled area. Prosecutions against the four men were filed in June 2019 and an international arrest warrant was issued. The men are believed to be living in Russia.


Apology for Jewish persecution during the war

January 26

Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologizes for the persecution of Jews in the Netherlands during the Second World War. This is the first time such an apology has been formulated in the country. According to Rutte, the authorities did not do enough to try to guarantee justice and security for the country's inhabitants, and too many officials joined the German occupation force. The excuse is made in a speech in Amsterdam in memory of the Holocaust victim, the night before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Of the 140,000 Dutch Jews, only 38,000 survived the war.



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