Primary and Secondary Education in the Netherlands and China

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Primary and secondary education in the Netherlands and China Jiajun Cen, March 7th 2012

In the Dutch education system one ought to have 12 years of education, starting at the primary school from the age of 4. After 8 years of primary education the children will do a CITO-test that determines to which level of secondary education they can attend.

The Dutch secondary education consists of three levels, respectively: VMBO, HAVO and VWO. VMBO is a 4 year program that has a more practical focus than the remaining levels and it is subdivided into four groups: BBL, GL, KBL and TL. A VMBO degree gives access to the subsequent vocational programs (MBO), which are 2 to 4 years depending on the chosen courses.

The intermediate level of the secondary education is the HAVO program of 5 years. After completion and obtaining the HAVO degree, one can choose to do either a higher vocational program (HBO) of 4 years or a MBO. However, recently the Dutch government has declared a HBO degree to be equivalent to a university’s bachelor degree and therefore it is more attractive to HAVO graduates to pursue a program in HBO.

Finally, the highest level in the Dutch secondary education is VWO. After completion of this program of 6 years, one has access to all universities in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, some popular courses, such as medicine and psychology, do have a minimum grade as entry requirement and therefore students willing to pursue a career in those fields will have to face a strong competition.

In the Chinese education system one has 9 years of compulsory education, starting at the primary school from an age of 6. However, before the primary school many Chinese children will go to a preschool to develop their linguistic skills. After 6 years of primary school, the children will do a national test that ultimately determines to which secondary school they can attend.

In china there are no distinctive levels in the secondary school system, but reputation...
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