Dutch education going downhill

6th June 2011, Comments 12 comments

The level of Dutch primary and secondary education is falling, both in absolute terms and in relation to other developed countries, according to a report by the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Analysis published on Monday.

In the long term, the bureau expects worsening education will affect the country’s economic performance, and cause a drop in gross national product. The falling standards are most apparent in maths in secondary education, but can also be measured in reading and science.

The most talented pupils are the biggest concern, the report says. Their performance consistently lags behind that of the best pupils in many other developed countries. At higher academic levels, the Dutch don’t enter the international top ten in any field.

The problem is most pronounced in primary schools. Pupils then catch up as they enter secondary school due to the early selection based on academic ability in the Dutch school system, the researchers conclude.

Extra spending isn’t necessarily the answer, the bureau says, but a better use of existing resources, with an emphasis on teaching quality.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

12 Comments To This Article

  • Lilly posted:

    on 23rd June 2011, 14:20:35 - Reply

    My ist attempt to comment failed. Thus Hope this works.
    Before you read my comments, I would like to apologize to any Dutch who will be reading this. I no intentions to offend anyone or the country and have all due respect for your country
  • Lilly de Vries-Ramzan posted:

    on 23rd June 2011, 12:12:51 - Reply

    Before you read my comments, I would like to apologize to any Dutch who will be reading this. I have no intentions to offend anyone or the country and have all due respect for Holland
  • dorus posted:

    on 19th June 2011, 14:26:29 - Reply

    I'm surprised by your reactions to this article. I think that nothing is perfect, so neither is the Dutch educational system, but you're making some strange to very strange remarks.
    To Joey: brilliant people with MBO can 'move up' to HBO and further on to WO. No problem, if they are indeed brilliant and do want to 'move up'.
    To denny: read http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/328. And what is your problem if a sales person doesn't speak English? As far as I know, this is still the Netherlands. Additionally, not everybody (anywhere) is smart enough to learn a second language properly.
    To abigail: "opportunities and advantages that children in other countries enjoy, based simply on their abilities (or concentration) at the age of 12" : can you give some examples what they have in other countries and not here? And find some other Dutch friends; many children do read books. And many probably not, like many other children in many other countries. Visit a library for instance. Further, apparently a lot has changed since I went to school: "no teaching of literature, no history". Where did you get that from? And "... are threatened if they even attempt to teach the Holocaust" Now you're really talking nonsense.
    To Catherine: "... simplicity, a problem in this country in all aspects of life!" : could you give me some examples of that? Together with examples from abroad, where life is less simple?
    To Andi: "If you can't save the day, let expacts do it ..." : Can I laugh now? (sorry if this sounds offending to someone)
    To denny again: this reads like 'projection' to me. "... speaking perfect dutch for you and only you?" sounds like you are angry and if anyone is arrogant it is you, who expects everyone to speak to you in English, because of, yeah, because of what? Personally I find it sad that people choose to move to another country to live there, and are not interested at all in the culture of that country. And language is a very important part of the culture. Sad, really.
  • denny posted:

    on 16th June 2011, 12:28:34 - Reply

    Yeah Cathrine that's a perfect word to describe the up and coming breed of Dutch as village simplicity. And Leslie looks like I hit a nerve in your little dutch spine, your angry that I didn't come to Holland speaking perfect dutch for you and only you? Living in a country the size of Rhode Island and being in Europe you could offer more insight instead of your arrogance which leads me to believe your dutch and who would
  • Andi posted:

    on 16th June 2011, 05:02:18 - Reply

    Well said Catherine. It is true, don't need kids to feel it happen. Time to put the ego at ease, stop banging your chests about your nation, put your heads together to avoid what happened to US and other 'wealthy' nations, exactly the same way. If you can't save the day, let expacts do it, it wouldn't be the first major project outsorced to 'buitenlanders'
  • Sheelagh posted:

    on 15th June 2011, 22:53:34 - Reply

    I wonder how you can comment on opportunities for kids or the educational system when you don't have any yet and thus also none in the Dutch school system. In the school my kids are in there is alot of emphasis placed on extracurricular activities and there are special classes for the talented and also for the weaker students. It is not the best system in the world but so far we are happy enough with it. The curriculum is dictated to the schools and it is up to them to decide how they present it.
  • Catherine posted:

    on 15th June 2011, 17:51:33 - Reply

    To me that is no surprise either, I agree with everyone condamning the system for deciding a kids educational level at age 12. To me that is absurd but more, once the kid has entered a lower level the are treated as being less capable and basically, get robbed of having a full education without any teaching of litterature or more as highlighted by Abigail.
    As for Denny's comments, I am a bit puzzled why he commented so negatively about the Dutch in general. This is about the educational system and not their eagerness for money, which I do agree with by the way. However, it is irrelevant in this context. However, I wanted to reply to Leslie regarding the importance of the English language. Shall I remind you that English is the chosen language of the European Union? Or simply the international language for the business world? Don't take any offense when foreigners expect to be served in English or complain when young Dutch people do not speak the language. In that case, I would directly blame the Dutch educational system for poor teaching of English. I say this because it is thanks to English that I have had an international career and that I got employed to work in the Netherlands. not because I speak Dutch.
    Let's just hope for a change in the education here as I believe there are many great Dutch companies that need the proper resources to keep succeding!
    However, for all non Dutch, please reconsider raising your kids here as I know I will be going back to Canada once I have my kids. There are jsut so many more opportunites over there but also such a different approach in the education system and so many more motivational programs (such as parascolar activities, sports, debate classes, etc) that I would feel I have limited my kids to simplicity, a problem in this country in all aspects of life!
  • leslie posted:

    on 15th June 2011, 16:29:52 - Reply

    To Denny: Why do you expect the people working in the Dutch stores to help you in English? Dutch is their language. If you shop in an English speaking country are they going to help people in Dutch, German, french, Spanish, Korean, Greek? I do not think so unless they employ minimum wage immigrants who happen to speak one of the languages. Why not for you to learn the language of the country you complain about.

    As to women having babies, I don't know if you know, it takes TWO to make that happen, one of them would be a male, but they disappear in the woodwork after they had their two minutes of "fun". Why not speak to the males as well.
  • abigail posted:

    on 15th June 2011, 14:55:14 - Reply

    The Dutch education system is archaic, at best, and has long been so. Children are forced to determine their future at an age when most of them are undergoing so many emotional distractions -- can you say "puberty"? -- that they are unable to focus on their academic work. Thousands of them are robbed of opportunities and advantages that children in other countries enjoy, based simply on their abilities (or concentration) at the age of 12. It's obscene.

    Moreover, I have yet to see any Dutch child, whatever his or her level of schooling, actually READ A BOOK. There is virtually no teaching of literature, no history (and of course, in so many public schools, teachers are threatened if they even attempt to teach the Holocaust), and certainly nothing like art history or philosophy or Latin - -basic subjects taught in US private schools, for instance.

    Sadly, this has been the case for far too long for the Netherlands to correct it easily. I wonder if they even care enough to do so. Somehow, I doubt it.
  • arjan o posted:

    on 15th June 2011, 13:49:01 - Reply

    Denny clearly had some negative experiences in the South in the 40-es and is probably now slowly dementing. Overall The Netherlands is far more international and developed than most of the US or UK for that matter. (both countries I lived in for years). The educational issue that is described here is a serious one and indeed could relate to the streaming, yet most likely more to the overall drop in standards in Gymnasium and Atheneum (VWO schools). It is there where the scientific and cultural top of the country is educated, a system relatively akin to the German one where standards apperently have dropped less.
  • denny posted:

    on 15th June 2011, 13:24:23 - Reply

    That's a no brainer!!! put your best dumb blond wig on and come visit. The only thing is the dutch are ruthless when it comes to money and they will tear you apart to the rest of us it's ripping off til you pay out your teeth. That's all the dutch care about is money. You go to any department store outside of Amsterdam, and they hire mostly kids who can't speak english and the girls already have a child at 18. Something you see in the south in the 40's
  • Joey posted:

    on 7th June 2011, 17:25:45 - Reply

    I´m surprised that only now such results have been reported, and before that everything was just mindlessly accepted. It was just a matter of time. Such a reductionist system used to determine the fates of their children at twelve years old, forcing them to make extra efforts to reach one or two points more if they want to reach a "higher" category was doomed to fail. It is really discouraging when kids are compartmentalized into predefined categories. Education has to be motivating. I personally know brilliant people that only got MAVO/MBO, and limited their careers, skills, and perspectives. Hopefully now will the system wake up and try to do it better.