A school culture that unites

Schools in the Netherlands are becoming increasingly ‘black' or ‘white', and the number of schools with mixed populations is also increasing. Schools need to shape policies to deal with cultural and ethnic differences.

6 March 2007
It is important that all schools prepare a policy for this issue, regardless of whether they are white, black or mixed. For mixed schools, in particular, it is important that they work towards creating the ‘we feeling', or a school culture that unites.

Three routes to a ‘we feeling'

The Education Council has identified three equally valid routes to creating a ‘we feeling'. The first is convergence: the focus is on the future, and all pupils are treated without making a distinction based on their background. A second route is that the school profiles itself as a melting pot of cultures: first the pupils' backgrounds, then their futures. There is also a third route, in which people's religions or ideologies bind them together. Schools with a clear vision of this topic are the most successful in creating the ‘we feeling'. The route chosen to achieve this success is less important.

Investing in external relationships and/or developing a school profile

To work towards a school culture that unites, schools can invest in external relationships and engage these in sports tournaments or collaborative projects, for example. The government should also conduct studies into school cultures and into implementation of the Active Citizenship Act [Wet op actief burgerschap]. Schools that actively focus on ideology or religion should be allowed to develop as ‘profile schools' and receive extra funding - just like schools that focus on sporting or artistic excellence. The same applies for schools that choose to adopt a cosmopolitan school profile. Finally, there should be an increased focus on migrants in relevant sections of the educational canon, so that school pupils get to learn more about their backgrounds.