8.3.2 Arts in schoolsArts education in secondary school
Arts and cultural education is a key instrument to promote cultural participation. Since 1945, students of secondary education visit museums, theatres and concerts, mostly as a part of voluntary extra-curricular activities. In the past decades several attempts were made by the government to intensify the contacts between schools and the professional arts. In 1998 this policy entered a new phase when "Arts and Cultural Education" was introduced as a compulsory subject in the highest classes of HAVO (senior general secondary education) and VWO (pre-university education). In pre-vocational secondary education, VMBO, a similar subject was implemented in 2003.
The introduction of arts and cultural education as a new subject was part of a large-scale innovation in Dutch secondary education. The general goal is that students learn to make a motivated choice of cultural activities that are meaningful to them. The core of the subject is the participation in cultural activities: in other words, students should experience culture. The government helps to cover the expenses of these cultural visits by providing each student with an amount of about 20 euros in vouchers that can be used as payment in museums, theatres, cinemas, etc. Practical arts activities (such as studio art, singing, dancing etc.) only form a small part. They are meant to support the preparation and "digestion" of cultural activities, but they are no ends in themselves. In August 2006, the Minister of Culture, Maria van der Hoeven, announced that the voucher system will be replaced by a culture card (see chapter 8.2.2). All secondary school pupils will receive a cultural card with an annual budget of 15 euros, for free entry to museums, theatre, concerts or film. Other parties, such as municipalities, parents or companies, can top up the card. The culture card will be introduced at the start of the school year 2008/2009.
Arts and Cultural Education in secondary education is preferably taught by a team of teachers of different subjects, such as mother language, foreign languages, visual arts, music and drama.
Arts education in primary school
At primary school, children take the following "expressive" subjects: language usage, music, drawing, handicrafts and games and movement. What the children learn in each subject is specified. Within arts and cultural education the emphasis varies from one school to another. Some schools will use artists for various projects. Others organise projects in which reading is approached not just as a technical skill but also as a cultural activity. Roughly 80 percent of primary schools make use of so called "art menus", i.e. programmes of 6 to 8 cultural activities. These might include a tour of a museum, attending a performance at a youth theatre or a visit to the cinema.