Access to education


Country Report: Access to education Last updated: 10/07/24


Dutch Council for Refugees Visit Website

According to Article 3 of the Compulsory Education Act, 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 as sufficient, they enrol in the suitable education programme.[3]

According to the RVA, 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, focused on the language training and classes about Dutch society and the labour market. Refugees who have been granted a residence permit can still be offered an educational programme.[5]

Theoretically, there are no obstacles as to access to vocational training for adults. However, asylum seekers have often not had the chance to learn Dutch at a sufficient level, and this decreases their chance of accessing vocational training in practice. One of the causes is the fact that Dutch classes for asylum seekers are not compulsory. Moreover, instead of professional teachers volunteers provide them with language courses, while refugees with a permit living in reception centres receive Dutch classes from a professional language teacher. Nevertheless, eligible asylum seekers[6] can participate in a language programme of 24 hours of Dutch classes, given by a professional teacher. Another reason that hinders adult asylum seekers in accessing education is that they do not have a right to financial study aid from the government.



[1] Law of 30 May 1968 houdende vaststelling Leerplichtwet 1969, available in Dutch at:

[2] Available at:

[3] For more information, see the Agreement of 28 April 2016 concerning the increased influx of asylum seekers as Annex to Minister of Internal Affairs, Letter No 19637/2182, 28 April 2016, available at:; and the website of the COA, available at:

[4] Article 9(3)(d) RVA.

[5] Article 12(1) RVA.

[6] Eligible’ asylum seekers are those who, based on their nationality, have at least 70% chance to be granted a residence permit and are originally from a country of origin with more than 50 asylum seekers a year that are granted a permit in the Netherlands, see:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation