Primary and secondary education in the Netherlands
Dutch children start their education at the age of 4 years by going to the primary school. They end their education there at the age of 12 years. The primary school takes eight years in order to complete it. The Polish equivalent of the word "class" is in the Netherlands is the word "group". Students of the first group and second group are called " toddlers", and often spend time playing together. In the third group children start to learn how to read, write and count. Education in primary school ends with a test called “citotoets”, which can be compared with the Polish “test szóstoklasisty”. Based on the results students can choose different types of schools as the next step of their education. This choice has a large impact on the future of the student's educational path.
One of the options is the VMBO (Voorbereidend Middelbaar Beroepsonderwijs, literally, Preparatory Middle-level Vocational Education"), which takes four years in order to complete. More than 60 percent of the Dutch students attend the VMBO. Education at the VMBO is focused on a future apprenticeship. Students choose one out of four profiles, such as economics, engineering, health and agriculture. In addition to the selected part of the professional courses students are offered other subjects which are all equal for everyone. After completing their education at this level, students take final examinations and may continue their studies at the HAVO (Hoger Algemeen Voortgezet Onderwijs, lterally, Senior General Secondary Education) or at the VWO (Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs, literally, pre-university secondary education ).
About 20 percent of the Dutch students attend HAVO. Education at the HAVO lasts five years and offers four thematic paths such as: nature and technology, nature and health, economy and society, culture and society. Similar to the VMBO, the studies consist of courses corresponding to the selected track and complementary courses equal for all. HAVO graduates can continue their education at the higher vocational schools (hoger beroep onderwijs, the HBO).
The VWO prepares students to continue their education at higher vocational schools or university. Education at this level takes six years. The twenty percent of the Dutch students with the highest results obtained at the citotoets attend the VWO. VWO offers the same educational profile as HAVO. In addition, VWO level there are two types of schools: gymnasium (offering curriculum Latin and ancient Greek), and Atheneum (without the programs Latin and ancient Greek).
Scheme of the Dutch education system