Renforcing knowledge II

 Reinforcing knowledge in education II

The standard of learning among pupils and students in all education sectors can be raised. The Education Council believes that the Minister should take measures to improve pupils' basic knowledge of Dutch, English and maths. Schools and universities need to take action too.


6 September 2007
In international comparisons, fifteen-year olds in the Netherlands do quite well in terms of their education. But we can't afford to take our eye off the ball, because we're not doing as well as we were a few years ago. What's more, higher education institutions are unhappy with the standard of learning of first-year students. When asked for its view by the Education Council in 2007, the entire education sector was unanimous: we can and should raise the bar.

Introduce learning standards and tighten examination requirements The Education Council recommends that the Minister introduce learning standards in primary education and in the lower years of secondary education. This will not only make clear what pupils need to master (the existing core goals), but also the levels they need to achieve (the proposed learning standards). The Minister should also tighten the examination requirements for Dutch, English and maths in senior general secondary education (HAVO) and pre-university education (VWO), so that pupils should have to gain passes in these subjects before they are awarded their school-leaving diploma.

Reach agreement on higher education entry levels
The education sectors themselves also have a role to play. The Education Council recommends that representatives of pre-university education (VWO), senior general secondary education (HAVO), senior secondary vocational education (MBO), higher professional education (HBO) and university education (WO) come together to establish a common standard for entry levels to higher education. The agreement on entry levels to higher education (‘AAHO') will lead to a series of tests for prospective students, available on the internet. Students will then be able to check for themselves whether they are suitably prepared and, if necessary, get extra tuition.

Raise the general standard in higher education
Finally, the general standard of education can be raised. People with a higher education should have a broad level of knowledge: from cultural history to developments in science and technology. Higher education institutions and the Minister should accept shared responsibility for this. In turn, students should have the ambition to make their studies a more substantial part of their life.