State versus private

The difference between state & private schools

State versus private

As in many countries, the Netherlands have both state schools and private/public schools. The main difference is that state schools don’t require students to have a certain religion or belief.

State schools (Openbare scholen)

About one third of children in the Netherlands attend public schools. These are schools where children of all religions can go and are usually run by the municipality.

These state schools

  • are open to all children;
  • are subject to public law and state-funded;
  • are governed by the municipality or by a public legal entity or foundation set up by the council;
  • provide education on behalf of the state.

Private schools (Bijzondere scholen)

The other two thirds of Dutch children attend private schools, or ‘special schools’ as the Dutch call them, where classes are given from a religious point of view (e.g. Jewish, Islamic, Protestant) or pedagogical point of view (e.g. Montessori, Freinet, Jenaplan, Dalton). These are usually run by organisations or foundations.

These private schools

  • can refuse pupils whose parents don’t believe in the religion or ideology;
  • are subject to private law and state-funded;
  • are not set up by the state;
  • are run by the board of the association or foundation.

Further reading

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