Development Education in the Netherlands

Development Education

Historical Background

International solidarity campaigning in the Netherlands dates back to 1954, when Father Jelsma started the Pleingroep. They performed political activities twice a week in the streets of the Hague and often put Third World issues on their agenda. Among the flrst groups influenced by these activities were Novib ( 1956), Sjaloom (1963) and the X min Y movement ( 1968).

1n 1959, an SOS group (Stichting Ontwikkelings Samenwerking or Association for Development Cooperation) was started in Kerkrade by the youth group of the KVP (Christian Democratic party). They imported handicraft work from missionary projects. It was the beginning of a movement that later merged with other peace and solidarity groups to become what is now a network of over 350 Wereldwinkels (World Shops). In 1968 there were around 10 groups and they first made themselves known by selling sugar from Third World countries door to door. This sugar was made from sugarcane, instead of the traditionally protected home- made beet sugar.

Almost at the same time (1967), a documentation and information centre was set up in Tilburg by a group of White Father students, who later teamed up with students from the Catholic University, high schools and missionary cummittees. It was the flrst step towards what later became a Development Education Centre (COS) with not only a local but also a regional role. The ORC (Overleg Regionale Centra - Association of Regional Centres) umbrella now covers 19 of them. Each COS has its own identity and projects but they all share in common work methodologies based upon a strong linking of local and global issues. Some of these centres have also become experts in promoting city twinnings with the Third World and cooperate closely with Towns and Development.

In the 70s, there occurred the emergence of a large number of grassroot groups traditionally focused on Third World issues or countries, and often referred to as the Third World Movement. They are traditionally self-financed and often linked to other social groups, churches and sometimes one of the main aid agencies (Cehemo, Hivos, Icco, Novib) andlor church (organisations (Vastenaktie, Werelddiaconaat). They can also apply for additional funds through local authorities and the National Committee for Development Education (NCO). The NCU has played a major role in supporting NGOs and solidarity groups in the spreading of information and, since the mid 70s, in promoting school projects. Founded in 1970 by the government, NCO is an organisation of a wide representative variety nf NGOs and social organisations and is funded by the government.

'World Studies' projects, promoted by the NCO, have frequently obtained the cooperation of universities and local solidarity and teachers' groups. Often, these projects have had a strong local impact, as can be seen in INVRO and SOP publications, among others. World Studies was attempting to merge such issues as conflict, development and the environment to promote a `global teaching' method at school. This was not seen as a subject on its own but as an area of study and a methodological approach.

The EPOS project ( 1982 to 1986), an initiative of the Ministry for Development Cooperation, was specifically aimed at improving Development Education (DE) in schooling for the 12-16 age range. By narrowing the range of contents and methodological options, it has been possible to produce a large number of teachers' guides and training/teaching packs that often integrate different subjects, such as geography, history, social science and economics, around one issue or one country. EPOS has edited 28 titles that have since also been distributed by the National Network for Development Education (LNO). LNO was a follow-up to the EPOS project and it has worked towards the integration of DE in the 4-12 and 16-19 age ranges also. According to the EPOS deflnition it "limits DE to the North-South issue: the existence of people in Third World countries in comparison with and in relation to the situation in the First World ". For primary education, the 12-16 and the 16-19 age groups, it suggests the need to deal successively with:

More recently, there have been attempts to link development and environmental issues in school curricula by a project that sees the cooperation of six different ministries and the involvement of both universities and NGOs.

NGDO-EC Liaison Committee: Development Education Group