Since the foundation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815, the government has been responsible for ensuring that all Dutch children receive proper education. Under the 1848 Constitution, any group of people may set up a school based on religious or philosophical beliefs or educational principles.

The government is responsible for supervising the educational system. It is compulsory for children in the Netherlands to attend school full-time from the age of 5 to 16 and to attend school part-time between the ages of 16 and 18. The curriculum and subjects taught in all types of school are laid down by law, as are attainment targets. This enables the government to ensure that qualifications are uniform throughout the country.

Schools set up by public authorities - usually municipalities - are called public-authority schools. All other schools, founded by private bodies, are called private schools. Though more than three-quarters of the schools in the Netherlands are private, they are all eligible for government funding, provided they meet certain criteria. The schools pay teachers' salaries out of these funds.

Education is free of charge for children up to the age of 18, but the parents of secondary school pupils have to pay for textbooks and other teaching materials. All parents, irrespective of income, receive child benefits.

For more information about the Dutch education system please check the NUFFIC website