Tag Archives: The Netherlands

Informatics in Dutch education

My name is Berry Nieskens. I teach Informatics at Hyperion Lyceum, a secondary school in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

At K-12 level, there is no mandatory teaching in informatics. To my knowledge there is no overview of schools that currently offer computing for children at the age of 4-12, which doesn’t mean there are no initiatives.
In secondary education, an estimate of one third of Dutch schools offer the course ‘Informatica’ in the higher half. It’s not mandatory and its curriculum is dated. Although a revision of this curriculum is imminent, it will still provide concepts only. What actually is being taught context-wise is still up to the teachers themselves to decide.

At K-12 level, there is no mandatory teaching in digital literacy. Most schools, however, expect pupils to have basic knowledge of how to use a search engine and use productivity apps for presentation and collaborating by the end of primary school, age 12.

The Dutch teachers association is called Vakvereniging i&i (website in Dutch). It’s an association of both informatics teachers and it-managers in education. Its focus has been primarily on organising a yearly conference on IT/Informatics in (secondary) education. Other projects include Mi&i, which is a subsidy (max. €150,-) granted to informatics students, mostly used to buy hardware for school projects. Also, some members of i&i are involved in renewing the Informatics curriculum in the second part of secondary education, ages 15 – 17.

The Dutch department of education recently launched ‘Onderwijs 2032’. The goal of this campaign is to start a national dialogue on the very basics of what education should provide for pupils who will be at the end of their school career in 2032. The central question in this debate is: What knowledge and skills should children be taught in order to prepare them for the future? Are we teaching them the right skills and knowledge?
This campaign will eventually lead to a complete overhaul of the curriculum for primary and secondary school, ages 4 – 16/18 (the age of graduating students depends on the school type they attend). As you can see in the promotional video on the above mentioned website, there’s quite some attention for digital literacy and computational thinking in this process.

Meanwhile, a commission is also appointed to renew the curriculum for ‘Informatica’, the optional course in the higher half of secondary education.

The main failure in my opinion is that both primary and lower secondary schools only offer training in using common productivity software like Microsoft Office, and searching the Internet with Google. There are hardly any schools that offer computational thinking, introduction to coding, graphic design or robotics under the age of 15.
I think the ‘Onderwijs 2032′ campaign is a great opportunity to improve digital literacy and coding skills being taught in both primary and secondary education.

Please note: I am aware that this overview is incomplete. Any remarks and suggestions can be sent to berry@nieskens.com. Thanks in advance for your contribution.