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A new school exam programme for cultural participation and appreciation is being developed.

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Netherlands/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education  

8.3.2 Arts in schools

Cultural education in primary school

In the Netherlands, primary schools are given full responsibility for educational quality and granted autonomy when it comes to their own curriculum. This applies to all subjects, including the arts and culture. Central government, though, takes steps to facilitate the improvement of the quality of cultural education and in developing the primary school teacher's competencies in this area. For instance, with the programme Cultural Education with Quality [Cultuureducatie met kwaliteit] (2013-2016), which aims at strengthening cultural education within primary schools and cultural institutions. The Ministry worked closely with the municipal and provincial authorities on this programme. The Cultural Participation Fund [Fonds voor Cultuurparticipatie] and the National Centre of Expertise for Cultural Education and Amateur Arts [Landelijk Kennisinstituut Cultuureducatie en Amateurkunst]had a task in the implementation of the programme.

In addition to the core goals, schools must show how cultural and artistic development relates to connected areas of learning such as history, citizenship studies or media awareness. Cultural institutions should provide content geared towards these objectives. The programme marks a shift in the policy regarding arts education: from promoting (receptive) cultural participation through arts education at school and out-of-school (e.g. the Culture Card) to improving conditions for quality arts education at primary school.

The programme includes four main aims regarding the improvement of cultural education in primary schools:

  • to stimulate the development of a long-term cultural education pathway instead of merely incidental cultural projects;
  • to improve the quality of teaching, as well as the knowledge and skills of the teachers;
  • to synchronise the programming of cultural institutes with primary schools;
  • and to create an assessment tool to ensure that the programmes at the schools can be evaluated on a regular basis.

These measures are being implemented on a centralised level (the central government); on a decentralised level (provinces and municipalities); and by the education institutes.

For the period October 2015-2020, former Minister Bussemaker made EUR 25 million (to be matched by a private party, VandenEnde Foundation) available for schools to enhance the expertise of teachers in music. Teachers often do not feel competent enough to teach music. The extra funding will enable the schools to train the teachers and to work together with organisations form the music industry, such as music schools, brass bands, orchestras and popmusic venues.

The programme ‘Cultural education with quality 2013-2016’, carried out by the Fund for Cultural Participation, is continued in the period 2017-2020 with an annual investment of EUR 10 million by the Ministry. The aim is to strengthen the quality of cultural education in primary education by: sustaining the quality of cultural education through collaboration between primary education and the cultural field; strengthening cultural education in schools who participated in the scheme in 2013-2016; and increasing the number of participating schools.

Cultural education in secondary school

Like primary schools, secondary schools are autonomous in shaping their cultural education/curriculum. In secondary school, however, examination requirements for art lessons are in place. For all pupils in upper secondary education (age 15-18), Cultural and Artistic Education (CKV) is compulsory. The general goal of CKV is cultural participation. As part of the programme, CKV students take part in cultural activities and visit cultural institutions. They learn to make a reasoned and informed choice on cultural activities that are meaningful for them. Their choice is based on experience gained from participation in cultural activities, knowledge of culture and the arts, practical activities within the various disciplines, and reflection. In the school year 2017/2018, a new CKV course has started, which aims at an active art experience. A major difference with the old course is that students conduct a research on (parts of) an artistic creative process, which will be examined.

Upper secondary pupils can opt for art as an exam subject. Art is subdivided into general arts and arts (arts visual, arts dance, arts drama, arts music). Pupils select one discipline within arts, provided the school offers this as an elective. There is a national exam for general arts and no school examination. The art course has a practical and a theoretical component, and there is a school examination for both components. In order to further stimulate secondary school pupils to participate in cultural activities, they receive a Culture Card. With this pass, the students of secondary education institutions receive discounts on entrance fees for theatres, cinemas, museums etc. (see chapter 8.2.2).

Chapter published: 12-02-2019

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