Cees, a teacher in Amsterdam, is the sixth participant in our 10-week #TeacherTuesday campaign. He describes some of the teaching and assessment methods that help children in the Netherlands achieve some of the world’s highest scores in international surveys.
How much children learn varies hugely across the world. In the Netherlands all primary school age children learn the basics in reading and mathematics. In Niger, at the other end of the scale, just 8 out of 100 primary school age children are able to acquire basic reading skills.
Such glaring disparities between countries show that where children are born determines their opportunity to learn – and point to the need to make special efforts to bring education to the poorest and most marginalized.
Even among rich countries, performance varies considerably. The Netherlands is representative of most rich countries in having ensured basic learning skills in both reading and mathematics for almost all primary school age children. But in Spain, while most have achieved the basics in reading, 8% have not reached the minimum learning benchmark in mathematics by the end of grade 4.
In the Netherlands, in fact, 15-year-olds score higher than the OECD average in reading, mathematics and science literacy. So how does one country achieve such good results? Cees, who teaches in a secondary school in Amsterdam, says: “I find it difficult to answer why the Netherlands is doing so well, because what do grades mean? To which countries do you compare?
But there are several clues to the Netherlands’ high performance in his answers he gave to our questions about how he does his job. They reflect many of the strategies to provide the best teachers that we outline in latest EFA Global Monitoring Report, Teaching and Learning: Achieving quality for all, including getting enough teachers into school; training teachers to meet the needs of all children; including the disadvantaged; providing teachers trainees with mentors; and providing ongoing teacher training and professional development.