The philosophy behind the Dutch education system reflects the mentality of the Dutch society as a whole and aims to encourage students to live and learn in an open-minded and creative manner.

Generally, schools in the Netherlands offer high-quality education. For example, the renowned global Pisa/OECD survey among 15-year-olds shows high rankings for Dutch pupils, especially in mathematics, and all 13 state-funded Dutch universities score well in The Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Compulsory education (leerplicht) in the Netherlands applies to all children aged 5 to 16, or until they have a diploma. Due to this obligation, schools will not give parents permission to take children out of school outside of official school holidays.

Day Care

The Netherlands has no formal educational provision for children under the age of four, the age at which they can start primary school.

Outside the formal education system there are, however, childcare facilities for young children, such as baby-sitters, nurseries and childminders. Childcare facilities, in the shape of out-of-school care, are also available for children of school age.

Childcare policy was transferred from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (het Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid) to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (het Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenchap – OCW).

For more information on childcare and childcare allowance, visit

In the ACCESS guide ‘Your Child’ you will find more information about regulations and the different types of childcare:

Read more about our partners in education and childcare.