Netherlands - Education

17 - Netherlands education - total bilateral/multilateral

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

18 - Edu ranking absolute - Netherlands

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

Formerly a major focus area, emphasis on education has decreased since 2012

Education is not a priority of the Dutch development funding portfolio, however, it has been one of Minister Kaag’s priorities: In 2016 (the latest year for which multilateral and bilateral data is available), the Netherlands spent just 4% of its total ODA on education, putting it in 24th place among donors within the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) in terms of relative spending on education. On average, OECD DAC donors spent 8% of their ODA on education. In absolute terms, the Netherlands is the 11th-largest donor country to education; it spent at US$233 million in 2016. Funding has declined by more than two-thirds since its peak of US$754 million in 2007, driven by cuts in bilateral ODA to education.

The Netherlands’ core multilateral contributions for education made up 48% of its funding in 2016. Bilateral funding, including earmarked funding through multilaterals, accounted for 52% of total education ODA. Bilateral education ODA decreased from US$382 million in 2007 to US$64 million in 2018.

Despite not being a development priority, education is viewed as a cross-cutting theme of the four traditional development priorities:

  1. Security and the rule of law;
  2. Water;
  3. Food security; and
  4. Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR, including HIV/AIDS).

The current 2020 budget sets education ODA funding at €110 million (US$120 million), which is divided between the international post-secondary program and vocational training education, and contributions to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

The Netherlands spends most bilateral education ODA on basic education

In 2018, the Netherlands spent US$182 million on bilateral funding for education (including earmarked funding through multilaterals), accounting for 5% of total Dutch bilateral ODA. The largest share of this was directed towards primary education (59% or US$130 million). The second-largest share went to higher education (26% or US$47 million). 8% (US$14 million) was allocated to vocational training.

The coalition agreement of the current government states that education for refugee children will be given a priority and that scholarships will be doubled using funds from the development cooperation budget, particularly for the new focus countries Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq. According to the policy document: ‘Investing in Global Prospects: For the World, For the Netherlands’ (also referred to as the ‘BHOS policy’), the Netherlands will invest €60 million (US$71) annually in new programs supporting general and vocational education, employment and income equality for young people and women in the West African Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa.

The Dutch government has at times been a strong supporter of the GPE. It contributed US$714 million since GPE’s inception in 2002 but ceased its contributions to the Fund between 2015 and 2019 However, the Netherlands announced a new pledge of US$114 million (2018-2020); and contributed US$57 million to the GPE that year.

In September of 2020, the Netherlands announced a contribution of €6 million (US$7 million) in support of Education Cannot Wait’s (ECW) COVID-19 education in emergency response. The pledge was made by Sigrid Kaag, at ECW’s High-Level Steering Group meeting. This was part of the additional COVID-19 ODA package which includes a total of €150 million (US$177 million) in funding put together by the Dutch Cabinet in response to the AIV advice report.

The MFA’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation drives global development policy; there is no specific department focusing on education

The responsibility for development cooperation lies with the Netherland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation (MFTDC), part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Further, within the MFA, the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) is responsible for designing and coordinating the implementation of development policy. As education is not a priority, there is no specific department within the ministry that focuses on education.