|Home > Policy > National/EU policy > Dutch autonomy and accountability highlighted in Insight country report|
The Netherlands has consistently led the way in innovation and the developments highlighted in the report written by Bert Jaap van Oel, Dutch Inspectorate for Education and Keimpe de Heer, Kennisnet Ict op School confirm this position. Kennisnet Ict op School is the public organisation set up in February 2006 to support the implementation of ICT in education. Under the motto “learning to renew with ICT” it develops expertise, produces new content and supports educational renewal with ICT.
Governance, decentralisation, school autonomy
In recent years education in The Netherlands has moved towards increasingly decentralised governance. This is to enable a bottom-up approach for policy making in education where education itself provides the input and the structure for policy making issues and stakeholders are empowered and their voice heard more strongly.
In primary education, the system of ‘lump sum’ financing has been put into place. This financial structure enables more financial responsibility for the school itself.
In secondary education, there was a national debate about the so-called new learning paradigm. This new naturalistic and constructivist pedagogy was introduced in quite a number of schools. This has led to considerable national debate about pedagogy and how and what pupils should learn. Advocates of the new learning paradigm focus on the advantage of pupils who are motivated to learn and gain deeper understanding through self-directed learning. Adversaries claim that not enough attention is paid to traditional areas of learning and that the role of teachers is too much limited to only teaching.
The introduction of lump-sum financing, decentralisation and increasing institutional autonomy make higher demands on governing board members and the head teachers. Greater autonomy means less prescriptive rules as regards the way in which teaching and learning is organised but it also means that board accountability is more oriented towards stakeholders. “Good governance” requires that educational institutes explain themselves more to parents, students, staff and companies (‘horizontal accountability”). Vertical accountability is required likewise towards the government and the education inspectorate (1).
A number of initiatives which aim at creating a leading knowledge economy in the years to come have been promoted by the Dutch government.
As a result, a programme focusing on stimulating students to choose a scientific study programme has been put in place. The aim is to achieve a structural increase of 15 per cent more pupils and students in scientific and technical education. A platform called Bèta Techniek has been commissioned by the government to support the initiative. There is also an expert organisation “Technica10” to promote science education among girls.
In the area of Internet safety for schools the main focus is on knowledge sharing. The initiatives in this area are developed by public, private and shared (public-private organisations). Kennisnet Ict op school, for example, provides information and tests to enable schools to make an informed choice whether or not and how to filter potentially harmful content.
There are other initiatives which focus on blending popular ICT applications in formal learning to make the whole process of learning even more attractive to young people.
Finally, two other trends are worth mentioning with regards to ICT in The Netherlands. First, there is a growing demand for insight into educational standards and performance. Second, there is a trend towards reducing national regulations and strengthening the responsibility of educational institutions for their own policy and practice. Such a tendency is reflected in the fact that the curriculum in The Netherlands is open and goal oriented and it is up to the school to design the school curriculum that meets these educational criteria.
The full report on the recent ICT developments in The Netherlands in the areas of ICT policy, practice in schools, content and teacher training is available for download from Insight, where new country reports for 2007 will follow in the coming weeks.
Dutch Country Report on ICT in education
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
Kennisnet Ict op School
Dutch Inspectorate for education
Recent reports from The Netherlands:
1. Teenagers and their digital world: Centre for eLearning INHOLLAND University for Applied Sciences, 2006.
2. A survey of young people and social networking sites:
Profile Sites, A survey of young people and social networking sites: Centre for eLearning INHOLLAND University for Applied Sciences, May 2007.
(1) Working in education 2007, Ministry of education, culture and science in the Netherlands
Last changed: Monday, 13 August 2007