Hanna de Jong-Markus

Religious Tolerance as Educational Goal in Orthodox Protestant Schools 3 53 religious tolerance also especially relates to one of the core objectives in the regulations of primary education which states that pupils should learn ‘…essentials of religious movements that play an important part in the Dutch plural society, and [that] they learn to respect people’s differences of opinion’ (Greven & Letschert, 2006). All Dutch educational legislation is constructed according to constitutional ‘Freedom of Education’. This ensures that denominational schools are free to express their religious or (pedagogically) philosophical values and ideologies within the educational setting and are funded by the state the same way public schools are (Dutch Eurydice Unit, 2007; Glenn & De Groof, 2005). Denominational schools must meet the same quality standards as public schools regarding qualifications of teachers, subjects that must be taught and educational targets (i.e., core objectives and examination requirements) (Bron, n.d.; Bron & Thijs, 2011; Dutch Eurydice Unit, 2007). However, denominational schools have great autonomy in interpreting the attainment prescriptions and in defining the curriculum (Bron, n.d.; Bron & Thijs, 2011; Onderwijsraad, 2012). Regulations on teaching tolerance therefore do not prescribe in detail what teaching pupils about tolerance exactly consists of (Bron & Thijs, 2011).28 Approximately 5% of all primary schools in the Netherlands are OPPSs (De Muynck et al., 2014). These schools adhere to Reformed doctrines and often have connections to local religious communities (De Muynck, 2008; De Wolff et al., 2002; Dijkstra &Miedema, 2003). A Christian identity is seen as the most significant and essentially foundational feature of these schools’ identity, which should therefore guide educational and pedagogical practices (De Muynck, 2008; De Wolff et al., 2003). The schools seek to deepen and consolidate pupils’ Christian faith in accordance with their religious upbringing in the church and at home (De Wolff et al., 2003; Dijkstra & Miedema, 2003). In daily school practices, reading the Bible, praying and singing are important activities, as is doctrinal teaching in the higher grade levels (DeMuynck et al., 2014). Teachers are practicing church members. Some schools restrict enrolment to pupils affiliated with specific churches, while others are open to church-going and non-church-going children alike (De Muynck et al., 2014; De Wolff et al., 2003; Dijkstra & Miedema, 2003). OPPSs could be best characterised as schools with mono-religious characteristics. This means that the socio-cultural context (in our case, at least, the teacher team and the school’s mission) is dominated by orthodox Protestantism, the normative basis is 28 See Zoontjens and Glenn (2012) for a comprehensive description of the educational system in the Netherlands.