Half a century of Islamic education in Dutch schools

I. ter Avest, M. Rietveld-van Wingerden

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


During the second half of the twentieth century, faithful followers of non-Western religions immigrated into Western European countries. Their children were a challenge for the respective educational system in the host countries. In the Dutch context, the educational system consists of public and private schools in which religion is the most dividing factor. Private schools are largely denominational schools with, as main denominations, Roman Catholics and Protestants, while state schools are presented as religiously neutral. How did this dual system cope with the import of a relatively new religion like Islam? In our contribution, we describe half a century’s history of Islamic children in Dutch schools by addressing the following questions. In what way did state and denominational schools on the one hand and the government on the other hand try to include Islamic pupils (and their parents) and facilitate their integration into the Dutch educational system and by consequence into Dutch society? And, the other way around, how did these new comers adapt themselves to the Dutch educational system, and did they stimulate, directly or indirectly, reflection on religion and values? We come to the conclusion that the most influential initiatives came from both Christian and Islamic schools as a consequence of their focus on the importance of the formation of pupil identity and life orientation and that teachers’ knowledge about and attitude regarding (religious) diversity are pivotal in processes of learning about and from each other as a precondition for integration into a society characterised by diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-302
JournalBritish Journal of Religious Education
Issue number3
Early online date18 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2017


  • Islamic education
  • DDutch Educational System
  • Integration
  • religious identity
  • history


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