Access to education



Dutch Council for Refugees

According to Dutch law education is mandatory for every child under 18, including asylum seekers.1 Asylum-seeking children have the same rights to education as Dutch children or children who are treated in the same way (e.g. children with a residence permit). This also applies to children with special needs: if possible, arrangements will be made to ensure that those children get the attention they deserve.2 Every AZC is in touch with and has arrangements with an elementary school nearby. However, if the parents wish to send their child to another school, they are free to do so.

Children below 12 go to elementary school either at the school nearby the AZC or at the AZC itself. Children between the age of 12 and 18 are first taught in an international class. When their level of Dutch is considered to be sufficient, they enrol in the suitable education program.3

According to the Regulation on benefits for asylum seekers, the COA provides access to educational programmes for adults at the AZC.4 Depending on the stage of the asylum application, the COA offers different educational programmes including vocational training. Refugees who have been granted a residence permit can still be offered an educational programme.5

There are no theoretical obstacles as to access to vocational training for adults. However, asylum seekers have often not had the chance to learn Dutch which decreases their chance of accessing vocational training in practice. Moreover, asylum seekers do not have a right to financial study aid from the government.

  • 1. Article 3 Leerplichtwet 1969 (The act on compulsory school attendance).
  • 2. Accessible at:
  • 3. For more information see the Agreement concerning the increased influx of asylum seekers (28 April 2016) as attachment to the letter of the Minister of Internal Affairs (28 April 2016) 19637/2182, available at; and the website of Central Organ for Reception of Asylum Seekers, available at:
  • 4. Article 9(3)(d) Regulation Benefits asylum seekers.
  • 5. Article 12(1)Regulation Benefits asylum seekers.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti