Toespraak van minister Mariëlle Paul bij het in ontvangst nemen van het nieuwe ICCS-rapport


Minister Paul (Primair en Voortgezet Onderwijs) sprak op 28 november 2023 over het belang van burgerschapsonderwijs, nadat ze eerder de uitkomsten van het meest recente International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) had gehoord. Deze toespraak vond plaats in de Hoftoren in Den Haag, en is alleen beschikbaar in het Engels. Het gsproken woord geldt.

Verantwoordelijke Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap
  • Basisonderwijs
  • Voortgezet onderwijs
Documentsoort Toespraak
Geldig van 28-11-2023
Document creatiedatum 28-11-2023

Good morning!

Citizenship. It’s about the smallest unit in our democracy: the citizen. But it’s also about the great mission that they all share: to form a society together.

Because it involves more than just knowing how our society works, what rules apply and what values they’re based on. It also involves you, as a student, gaining the tools you need to hold your own in society. That’s something you learn at home, but also in the classroom: from debating social issues to knowing where you can find reliable political news online or devising a plan with your classmates to make your schoolyard greener.

You learn what your position in the world is and how you yourself can also help shape the world. But you also learn a lot from your classmates. About their position in the world, their worldview, their culture and background. Because a society is something you create together. Even in the classroom, which is like a smaller version of society. That’s why it’s important to learn at an early stage how to engage in an open conversation about difficult issues.

There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy disagreement, but it’s important to learn from each other’s differences. And embrace the fact that opposing views can actually enrich society. That’s why it’s essential to focus attention on citizenship in our schools.

And we need to do this correctly, effectively. The lessons need to have the desired effect. This is why I’m so pleased with this international study and the fact that the Netherlands has been allowed to participate in it again.

I would, of course, like to thank all of the researchers here today and elsewhere for all their hard work. And, of course, I’d like to thank the IEA for organizing this international study.

There are numerous lessons to be learned from this report. It shows that certain things are going well, also in the Netherlands. For example, the group of 14-year-olds surveyed have gained increased trust in the media and in the courts. They also believe firmly in our democracy.

But there’s plenty of room for improvement. For example, Dutch young people achieve a lower score for knowledge of citizenship than their contemporaries in many other countries. They are also performing worse than they did in the 2016 ICCS study, just like students from all of the countries surveyed.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This situation can and must change for all Dutch school students. This is why the Dutch government has already taken a variety of measures to reverse this downward trend.

Before listing the actions we’re taking, I’d first like to look at the bigger picture. As a student, you can only learn effectively if you’re comfortable in your own skin. That’s not always the case right now, because many students are still suffering from the effects of Covid. To ensure that every student is effectively equipped and supported, we launched the National Education Program two years ago.

We’re also making further improvements to citizenship education. Which starts with a solid foundation: ensuring that every school student can read, write and do math well. That they can safely navigate the digital world and understand the rules of our society. Obviously, citizenship is one of the cornerstones of that solid foundation.

We assist schools by sending our educational coordinators to support them. And we’ve also established the Citizenship Expertise Desk, where teachers, team leaders and school heads can get tools and background information on citizenship education.

This brings me to my second point: the new Citizenship Act, that also took shape in the wake of the last ICCS study. It lays down in law the requirements for adequate citizenship education. It clarifies what’s expected of schools when it comes to citizenship education while leaving them free to structure the lessons themselves.

My third point builds further on this. We’re currently in the process of developing new core objectives for citizenship.

Making it even clearer what knowledge and skills are expected from a student when they complete their schooling. This will also provide more guidance to teachers.

Ladies and gentlemen,

When it comes to citizenship, we still have a lot to do. I deliberately say ‘we’, because we have to do this together. This places demands on schools, but also on the people in this room today. On policymakers and researchers. We have to map out the way forward, as well as make regular checks to ensure we’re on the right track. To ensure that the methods we’re applying, really do work.

And in doing so, we need to continuously bear in mind for whom we’re doing all this. And the answer is simple: we’re doing this for all those students, in all those classrooms. To prepare them for the future, so that they can claim their place in society and function effectively and harmoniously with others.

Teachers, teaching assistants and school heads in the Netherlands are working hard day in day out to help achieve this. I very much appreciate their efforts.

At the same time, this report shows that we still have some way to go. We need to push forward and show even more students what exactly citizenship entails. Show them what lies hidden behind that word.

Because that’s what every student deserves. In order to be prepared for all that society and life has to offer.

Thank you!