General Introduction 17 1 1.3 Citizenship Education in Dutch Schools Schools are often considered among the most important environments that can contribute to promoting social cohesion and learning to deal with diversity in society (An, 2014; Kantzara, 2011; Koonce, 2011; Mason & Wareham 2018; Merry, 2020; Nieuwelink et al., 2016; Rissanen & Sai, 2018; Short, 2002; Van Waveren, 2020; Veerman, 2020). Veerman (2020, p. 11) identifies strengthening social cohesion as a ‘core social task of education’. This core task is often referred to as ‘citizenship education’3 (Jackson, 2003; Martínez-Ariño & Teinturier, 2019; Onderwijsraad, 2012; Ten Dam et al., 2011). According to Ten Dam and colleagues (2010, 2011), it is worth taking ‘civil society’ as a starting point, because this underlines that it is not only about social cohesion and living together but also about the development of individuals and their norms and values. Not only the political, but also the social and individual domain are involved (Ten Dam et al., 2010, 2011; cf. Van Waveren, 2020). Citizenship education should contribute to pupils’ ability to perform four social tasks in a democratic, plural society: acting democratically (“acceptance of and contribution to a democratic society”), acting in a socially responsible manner (“taking shared responsibility for the communities to which one belongs”), dealing with conflicts (“handling of minor conflict situations or conflicts of interest to which the child is a party”), and dealing with differences (“handling of social, cultural, religious and outward differences”) (Ten Dam et al., 2010, 2011, p. 357; cf. Dijkstra et al., 2018). Since 2006, citizenship education in the Netherlands has been explicitly described as a statutory duty for primary, secondary and post-secondary vocational education (Bron, 2006; Bron & Thijs, 2011; Staatsblad, 2005; Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal, 2019).4 In evaluations ten years after the introduction of this duty, it is noted that the development of citizenship education in the Netherlands is stagnating: in schools citizenship education is not very goal-oriented, activities around citizenship lack coherence, and there is limited monitoring of the outcomes of citizenship education (Inspectie van het Onderwijs, 2016, 2018). Moreover, international comparative research shows that Dutch youth, for example, have less knowledge about democracy than peers in similar countries, and that the differences between pupils are greater than elsewhere (Munniksma et al., 2017). In response, the statutory citizenship task has been tightened as of 1 August 2021 3 Related to and/or overlapping with citizenship education are character education, civic education, democratic education, human rights education, global citizenship education, moral education, and multicultural education. 4 Note that the discussions about this Act started in 2002, the year that Pim Fortuyn was murdered (BBC News, 2002). According to Dekker & Den Ridder (2014, p. 103), that is also the moment when “long-standing differences in trust in and commitment to politics are revealed and sharpened by the electoral opportunity to speak out forcefully against the establishment”.