Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to main content
European Commission logo


EACEA National Policies Platform


9. Youth and the World

9.7 Current debates and reforms

Last update: 28 November 2023

New law on citizenship in education

From 1 August 2021, new legal requirements apply for the promotion of citizenship in primary, secondary and special education. This statutory assignment to promote 'active citizenship and social cohesion' clarifies the citizenship assignment from 2006. It underlines that promoting citizenship and social cohesion is a task that requires focused attention from schools. Schools have a lot of room to decide for themselves how they want to organize their citizenship education. Freedom of education is also an important starting point here.

Monitoring citizenship education

The Inspectorate of Education (Inspectie van het Onderwijs) of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science monitors compliance with the law. This law contains minimum requirements that every school must meet: Minimum content that should receive attention; Some educational starting points for the way in which these aspects are discussed; Requirements for the environment in which citizenship education is provided.

Furthermore, citizenship education can be implemented in a way that fits the mission of the school or institution. Schools and institutions can therefore take into account what pupils or students need and the wishes of parents and the environment.

Improving citizenship education in secondary vocational education (MBO)

For secondary vocational education (MBO), there are legal requirements that have been in force for some time, as laid down in the qualification requirements for citizenship. In September 2017, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science and the MBO Council signed the MBO citizenship agenda (2017-2021). The agenda is an initiative of the ministry and the schools themselves, and aims to take citizenship education in secondary vocational education to a higher level.

In a letter to the House of representatives about strengthening citizenship in secondary vocational education (July 2022) Minister Dijkgraaf of Education, Culture and Science informs the House of Representatives about the results of evaluations and studies into the quality of citizenship education in secondary vocational education (MBO). He discusses measures to improve this. He also discusses the MBO Card (a free cultural discount pass for students and teachers in MBO), the Social Service Time (Maatschappelijke Diensttijd, young volunteer programme for young people between the ages of 14 and 27), the strengthening of supervision and the association agreements of the MBO Council.