The importance of inclusive education in the Netherlands

Picture of DCI-Netherlands


Inclusive education is insufficiently achieved in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has one of the most segregated education systems in Europe. The number of children staying at home is increasing and there are a growing number of children and young people who cannot find a suitable place in the current education system. Despite the obligations that follow from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, inclusive education is not sufficiently achieved in the Netherlands. This is evident from the publication ‘On the road to inclusive education as a daily reality’ (‘Op weg naar inclusief onderwijs als dagelijkse realiteit’), which Defence for Children the Netherlands published in the run-up to the Parliamentary debate on the evaluation of the law regarding adequate education. “The interests of the child and the right to the fullest possible development are under pressure in education”, says Daniëlle de Jong, spokesperson of Defence for Children. “This has to change; the evaluation of appropriate education provides the opportunity for the Dutch state to achieve inclusive education”.

Focus on the child

In the field of education, there has been a development towards inclusive education in recent years; an increasing number of schools accept every child and every young person who wishes to enrol. However, schools experience thresholds in Dutch laws and regulations regarding inclusive education. “It takes more and more effort to get funding for extra support and care at school for a child. This should be better implemented within our system,” says Berdi de Jonge director of the inclusive elementary school De Korenaar in Eindhoven. “The child should be leading and not the system.” This is also confirmed by Lauren Sluiter (18 years old), who graduated this year from the Stedelijk Gymnasium in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Due to cerebral palsy, she has difficulty walking. “With the commitment of the school and trust in the student you will come a long way,” Lauren stated, now studying at the University of Leiden.

Treaty obligation

With the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2016, the Dutch state has taken on the obligation to draw up a strategy and a timeframe to shape inclusive education. The obligation to implement the right of the child to education in an inclusive education system also follows from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to Daniëlle de Jong, more than four years after the ratification of the UN Convention on Human Rights, it is imperative for the Dutch state to take steps towards inclusive education. Defence for Children makes the following recommendations:

  • Draw up a strategy with objectives and a timeline for the realization of the right to inclusive education, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Adapt Dutch legislation on education with a clear definition and objectives regarding inclusion.
  • Establish cooperation between education and other policy areas in within law and policy regulations.
  • Involve children with disabilities in (drafting) policy.
  • Organize the funding system of education and care in such a way that inclusive education is promoted.
  • Monitor the implementation of inclusive education, develop frameworks in which the values of inclusive education are safeguarded and stimulated so every child can enjoy the right to inclusive education.


This post is also available in: FR, ES