The education system in the Netherlands is often highly placed in international rankings, but cultural and ethnic segregation remains a major concern.
There is a wide choice when it comes to education and teaching methods in the country, but some people think there is a lack of real cutting-edge innovation.
One of them is Entrepreneur Maurice De Hond who told Learning World: “Children at home are interactive, digital, multimedia, multi-tasking and then they go to school and see how it was in the past. And I didn’t want to bring my daughter every day to a museum in the pretence that we were preparing her for the future.”
So he and a group of volunteers set up the foundation O4NT or Education For a New Era, which is behind the so-called ‘Steve Jobs’ schools.
But it is not just a question of high tech. Children work at their own pace, moving between classes as and when they like, using iPads loaded with educational apps which put them in control of the learning process.
PISA (The Programme for International Student Assessment), coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ranked education in the Netherlands as the 10th best in the world as of 2012.
The Eindhoven University of Technology was founded almost 60 years ago in 1956.
Euronews met the president, Jan Mengelers, who is very proud of the university’s academic achievements, saying: “This year we see an enormous increase of new students, male and female. That’s good news, we will increase (student numbers) by 30 percent. Sciences have become more sexy and I think now in this economic crisis it is better insurance for having a job.
“It is a worldwide competition. Universities always compete for excellence and our fellow universities will not stand still, but there is a good thing about sciences. It is the only thing you share with another person and you both get richer. This university is even better than MIT in making combined publications between industry and university, so you have a kind of an ecosystem where you are part of and then you try to be best of that in the world.”
Black and White
May people living in the Netherlands were born in other countries, making Dutch society truly multi-cultural. But as newcomers to the Netherlands tend to congregate in certain neighbourhoods, some schools tend to be dominated by children born outside the country. These schools are referred to as black schools.
For many years, white schools dominated by children born in the Netherlands to Dutch parents, were seen as offering a better standard of education. But now that trend is beginning to be reversed.
The St. Jan school, for example, used to be regarded as “black” but as its reputation has gradually improved thanks to the head teacher, the school is now mixed, with 392 pupils of 35 different nationalities.
There are no government level policies for improving the mix in Dutch schools.
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