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It is not compulsory for schools to offer education and capacity building for young people in the field of culture and creativity. But both the Council for Culture (Raad voor Cultuur) and the Education Council of the Netherlands (Onderwijsraad) think schools should, in some way, make it part of their curriculum. In their advice Cultuureducatie: leren, creeren, inspireren! (Culture education: learn, create, inspire!) (June 2012), which was requested by the State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science, both councils concluded that culture education has nothing more than a marginal spot in the school curriculum. Teachers lack tools and do not feel competent to discuss the subject. The cultural sector that they usually turn to is unclear and incoherent. According to both councils culture education should be at the heart of education. They stress that it is important that schools teach culture education and include their local network in the process. The councils give the following main recommendations and suggest a step-by-step approach:
- Give schools more grip on the content of culture education;
- Stimulate expertise in schools;
- Turn the cultural infrastructure into a service for schools.
The advice led to the programme Culture Education with Quality (Cultuureducatie met Kwaliteit) of the Cultural Participation Fund. The programme is aimed at pupils in primary education and improves the collaboration between schools and cultural organizations as well as the expertise of teachers. In addition it contributes to the development of continuing learning lines and 21st century skills.
The government appreciates the importance of culture education. On their website the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap OCW) points out that culture education is essential for the transformation of young people into discerning adults. Lessons in literature, theater, media or heritage are not just fun, they are also essential for the general forming of children. Through culture education children develop their talents, and learn to understand the value of arts. Arts can stimulate historical awareness and challenges students to develop a creative, inquisitive attitude. Also, cultural organizations contribute to culture education.
Digital information and social media are important tools in education and can help children and young people to acquire cultural and creative competences. This requires media literacy and online safety. As already pointed out in Paragraph 6.8, schools are not obliged to have media literacy and online safety education in their curriculum, but they are strongly advised to integrate these themes. Many schools are already working to improve the digital citizenship of their students. This means that students are aware of social media and use it in a responsible way. This also includes responsible citizenship with regard to the use of internet, cell phone and other media.
The future of education
Since 2014 several steps have been taken to revise the curriculum of primary and secondary education. Advice has been given by different actors. First, the Platform Education 2032 (Platform Onderwijs 2032) consulted the central government about the future of fundamental education. The main aim was to present a vision on the knowledge, skills and competences that students must acquire in the light of future developments in society. The final report, Consultation by Platform Education 2032 (2016) (only in Dutch), gives an outline of a future proof primary and secondary education in the Netherlands. Education aimed at stimulating curiosity and creativity, and that contributes to the personal development and forming of responsible citizens that can handle diversity. This kind of education will help students to find their way in the digital world. The proposed fixed base for education includes languages Dutch and English, calculation and mathematics, digital literacy, citizenship and ‘knowledge of the world’. In addition, education must contribute to the development of interdisciplinary skills and competences preparing students to participate in society, and supporting them in lifelong learning and the forming of their personality. For example, learning skills, creating, critical thinking, problem solving abilities and effective collaboration.
Second, in 2019, teachers, school leaders and experts, united in Curriculum.nu, proposed suggestions for the revision of the curriculum in primary education and the junior grades of secondary school. The development team Arts & Culture advised to give more attention to artistic expression and the development of creativity on the one hand and the role of arts and culture in society and their own development on the other hand. Also, these both sides of arts and culture education should be intertwined.
Third, the Scientific Curriculum Committee has advised the Minister of Education, Culture and Science about Curriculum.nu’s proposals in its report Tussenadvies 1 Kaders voor de toekomst (Mid-term advice Framework for the future) and Tussenadvies 2 Goal and space. The committee has advised to elaborate on Curriculum.nu’s advice concerning arts and culture and to give more attention to cohesion, broad skills, global themes and diminishing overload. The Committee has written a draft assignment to expertise center Stichting Leerplan Ontwikkeling (SLO, Foundation for Curriculum Development) to execute the next step in determining the concrete curriculum goals and final exam programmes. Also, the revision of the curriculum for the senior grades in secondary education will be started in 2021.
The publication Base for Culture education. Manual for the future of culture education inside and outside schools (Basis voor Cultuureducatie Handreiking voor de toekomst van binnen- en buitenschoolse cultuureducatie) (LKCA, October 2016), discusses a number of main principles of culture education:
- Equal chances for cultural development for every child of 0 to 18 years;
- Culture education with a continuous learning line and integrated in the curriculum;
- Connection between inside and outside school learning;
- Introduction of culture and talent development;
- A culture-rich learning and living environment.
Next to this, the manual (Chapter 4 Planning steps, Paragraph 4.4, pages 29-32) renders descriptions of the qualification of teachers, educators and others in the cultural field. According to the authors a ‘combination officer’ should be appointed to connect culture education inside and outside schools. Now, combination officers (also called ‘culture coaches’) are mainly facilitated by municipalities and central government. Culture coaches are contact persons inside schools and outside schools (e.g. educational workers of cultural organizations). The exact role of a culture coach depends on the local context.
Culture education inside and outside schools is connected by a continuous learning line and the lesson content. The authors of the manual suggest that all schools and culture providers use the learning framework, learning plans and guidelines. Governments can stimulate this by making the use of the learning line and guidelines a condition to get funding.
In their Manifest for Culture education (Manifest Cultuureducatie) the branch organization for professionals in arts and culture Cultuurconnectie (Culture Connection) (see also Paragraph 8.1) stresses that culture education is essential for development and connection. The Manifest recommends that the following investments in culture education are necessary to create the right conditions for young people:
- Integrate culture education in the school curriculum for all young people from 4 to 18 years and offer the programme ‘Culture education with Quality’ (Cultuureducatie met Kwaliteit) of the Cultural Participation Fund (see above) to all young people. Allocate a steady amount of 10 euro per year per student for arts and culture, to connect the rich learning environment of our national heritage and the arts sector with education in a natural way.
- Make culture accessible for all children with ample possibilities to develop culture skills during after school hours, also supported by art teachers and artists. Devote special attention to families that live in poverty and often experience difficulties in offering their children the opportunities they need.
- Invest in good facilities and use a national framework for agreements about a nationwide infrastructure for basic cultural facilities inside and outside schools, which clearly specify all responsibilities between government, education and cultural providers.
For information about public funding for the acquisition of cultural and creative competences through education and training see paragraph 8.3.