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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Support measures for learners in adult education and training


12.Educational support and guidance

12.7Support measures for learners in adult education and training

Last update: 27 November 2023


Definition of the Target Group


Adult education


About 1 in 9 Dutch people between 16 and 65 years old are illiterate. They have difficulties with reading, writing and communicating in Dutch. Of this group, nearly 70% is of Dutch origin. People who have difficulties in reading and writing, have more difficulty finding a job or to maintain a job. Half of this group is unemployed or inactive. Illiteracy often also causes a poor health. For example, people with low literacy skill cannot read the information/instructions for medications. In addition, children of people with low literacy skills are more at risk of a language deficiency. Parents who have difficulties with the language often cannot read to their children and can help their children less well with their homework.

The government has made extra funding available to tackle functional illiteracy through the ‘Tel mee met taal’ in 2016. The government invests annually from 2016 to 2018 € 18 million for the different projects from this program.


VAVO (Adult general secondary education)– special support

The Equal Treatment (Disabled and Chronically Ill People) Act

Approximately 30% of students live with one or more disabilities. One third of this group – 10% of the total number – experience this as an obstacle to attending education and training. The Equal Treatment (Disabled and Chronically Ill People) Act applies in such cases. Under its provisions, institutions must adapt their facilities effectively to accommodate disabled students, unless this incurs an unacceptable burden for the institution.

For more informative also see: chapter 12.3 Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education.


Specific Support Measures


Adult education


'Tel mee met taal’ 2016-2018 - only in Dutch available - (‘Count me in’) Is the title of the new action programme launched jointly by the Ministry of Education, Culture & Science, the Ministry of Health, Welfare & Sport, and the Ministry of Social Affairs & Employment. The purpose of the new programme is to prevent people with limited language skills from becoming marginalised. Every functionally illiterate person is one too many. To address this issue, the government is focusing extra attention on Dutch language skills over the next few years. The action programme is designed to create synergy by linking areas in which language plays a key role: schools, libraries, community centres, neighbourhood outreach teams, debt advice bureaus, school dropout monitoring, reintegration programmes, youth care services and social benefits offices.

With the action program at least 45,000 new participants start in a language course. For this, municipalities, UWV, social community teams, training centers and libraries work closely. In addition, at least 3,000 additional language volunteers must be trained in 2018. They coach people with low literacy skills as a language buddy or language coach. 3,000 volunteers have been trained already.

The government subsidizes various projects to improve the knowledge of the Dutch language.

For more information also see chapter 8.2.

Illiteracy Action Plan 2012-2015

With the Action Plan illiteracy the government has taken different measures to combat illiteracy between 2012 and 2015. The main measures are:

  • Tackling early school leaving and improving the literacy and numeracy skills of pupils. This prevents young people with insufficient reading and writing skills at the labor market.
  • Drawing up guidelines to improve the literacy and numeracy levels in adult education. These guidelines are based on existing reference levels of Dutch language and numarcy.
  • Supporting municipalities, language service providers and civil society organizations in reaching the target group and offering effective language training.

Special adapted state examination Dutch as a second language (NT2)

If someone has a physical disability, he / she can take an adapted State Examination Dutch as a second language (NT2). This person gets for example an exam in large print if he / she is visually impaired.

Someone can apply online for the state examination in Dutch as a 2nd language. DUO asks which additional services the person needs. The person must also send a statement from a medical specialist to the ‘NT2 administration’.


VAVO (Adult general secondary education)

On basis of the Equal Treatment (Disabled and Chronically Ill People) Act a student may not be refused by a school  (unless it is a disproportionate burden for the school, in that case there will be searched for another solution).

Dyslexia and dyscalculia

See chapter 12.1.2 for specific support measures in secondary education.