This post is part of the VET Gazette 3
Sabine Schroten
Coordinator International Affairs
Friesland College


‘Friesland College educates students to become ‘practical world citizens’ who are able to find their way both in their profession and in society.’ This is laid down in our Strategic Plan 2019-2022. It is Friesland College’s belief that the 17 SDG’s will help achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, which is why we have adopted these goals in our strategic course, encouraging both our students and employees to ‘embrace’ them. We are also convinced that our students will have a better chance on the labour market when they are taught both job specific and civic skills.

Friesland College is an ambitious and innovative school, always open to new and fresh ideas. Improving the quality of our education has been and always will be one of our main priorities. To stimulate and ensure our sustainable course, the Practorate ‘Think Sustainable, Act Sustainable’ was established in 2019. This practorate aims at turning our sustainable ambitions into concrete actions and making them a natural and integrated part of our education. The practorate connects and supports our teachers and students but engages in practical research as well.

According to Dutch educational legislation, every VET-student needs to develop himself as a citizen; schools should encourage students to develop the knowledge, skills, and values they need to engage with the world, such as critical thinking, research skills and an open, cooperative, and proactive attitude. To achieve that goal, Friesland College is working towards vocational education where civic education is not taught as ‘an additional subject’ but is fully integrated into the curriculum. After all, any subject offers the opportunity to discuss and work on civic ‘themes’. A framework for our civic education, with 7 themes such as ‘Climate & environment’ was currently developed. The SDGs are integrated into these themes.

Students will not simply become responsible world citizens in a classroom; quite the opposite ­– they should take an active role in the community. Which is why Friesland College works together with partners on a regional, national and international level, because it helps us to teach our students how to ‘think and act sustainable’! Our collaboration with Spark the Movement, a regional network of schools that inspire and encourage each other to make their education sustainable, is a good example.

Our staff is keen to learn how we can develop our civic and sustainability education further. Practised-based research will help to identify the effects, impact, and student satisfaction of our educational innovations. The next step will be to establish a Learning Community of enthusiastic colleagues who are interested in developing our civic and sustainable education further and taking it ‘to the next level’. Teachers who take part in this Learning Community can develop educational designs based on theoretical knowledge and then test and evaluate them. Additionally, other colleagues can learn from the practice-based results as well. This approach will also help to work towards another important Friesland College ambition: to be a learning organisation, always looking for opportunities to improve itself.

Many initiatives and projects have already taken place or will take place in the upcoming year. Friesland College gladly encourages and supports these initiatives. A few examples:

Cooking by the principles of Dutch Cuisine

Our 1st-year cooking students learned to cook by the Dutch Cuisine principles, which means cooking sustainably and using regional and organic products. By making our students aware of what this way of cooking entails, directly at the start of their training, they can apply this knowledge during the rest of their training and their future careers.

Electives Sustainability/SDG’s

Our students can choose from various electives on sustainability/SDG’s. All our students (level 1 -4) can take part in our elective ‘Sustainability and your profession’ where they will work on sustainability issues relevant for their profession, meet with a sustainability consultant and will discover just how sustainable their mindset and actions really are.

Online hackathon Food Waste Challenge

Students could participate in our (online) food waste challenge and work on different challenges, all from actual companies. Such as a company in Spain, owned by a British entrepreneur couple, that produced and sold home-made ice cream and chocolates, made of sustainable ingredients. Unfortunately, due to the corona crisis and the lack of tourists coming to visit them, they were stuck with a huge stack of chickpea flower that was past the expiration date. They could not use it for their products anymore. The challenge for our students: what other (sustainable!!) purposes can you find for all the chickpea flower that they can no longer use for their products? The students came up with very interesting, original, and useable ideas!

Global Goals TV Friesland College

Our own learning company for students produces a monthly TV show about the Global Goals. All topics, interviews, editing, etc are arranged by the students themselves. To name a few sustainable topics they have covered so far: they visited one of the most sustainable industrial buildings in Europe – located in our very own province of Friesland. They visited a shop that sells only local ecological food. And they made an item about waste and recycling.

Friesland College is proud to announce that Friesland College, Circular Friesland, and the Netherlands Association for the United Nations (NVVN) have now agreed to collaborate to bring the importance of sustainable development goals to the attention of all students in Dutch VET education. One of the first actions will be the development of a national version of Global Goals TV, in which our students will show what the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mean in practice, via YouTube broadcasts.

Friesland College in top 3 national Sustainability contest VET schools

Friesland College has achieved an honourable third place in the ranking of the most sustainable VET schools in the Netherlands. 16 VET schools participated in the national SustainaBul contest in December 2021.

Friesland College and European projects

Friesland College is involved in several European projects in which Sustainability is an important theme, such as Craft your Future  ( ) and Platform of Vocational Excellence Water (