The Netherlands

In reaction to growing intolerance and discrimination in society, Rabbi Soetendorp, who is known internationally for his peace building activities, founded the Respect Education Foundation in 2006. REF aims to bring cultures and religions together, starting with children in school. By developing their social and emotional skills, children learn to manage their emotions, to communicate and resolve conflicts nonviolently. This leads to a better atmosphere in the class and to better learning results. More than 1.000.000 children in The Netherlands have taken part so far. The program gained national recognition with the 'Day of Respect. This is a regular feature in many schools since 2006, and from 2014 it expanded to the Week of Respect. Every year hundreds of guest lecturers, teachers and teacher training college students visit schools, share their personal story and debate with students. Sharing an authentic story makes the concept of respect personal and concrete. Feelings are expressed; thoughts are made tangible, placing both the storyteller and the children in a position of strength. For years REF has experienced the power of dialogue. Engaging in conversation with each other is the basis, it provides direction for solutions to combat intolerance and discrimination.
The focus of the Week of Respect is building a Respectzone. A respect zone is an environment where everyone feels comfortable and accepted the way he or she is. And that area is always in motion; it starts with yourself, your family, your class, the school, your club, neighbourhood, city or town, and ultimately your country and the entire world ... During the Week of Respect we discuss the concept and find ways to construct a respect zone together.

What are the requirements of a respect zone? What arrangements do we make with each other to live well together, what are the associated boundary conditions and how do we ensure that we make this happen? And above all: what is YOUR personal contribution to the respect zone?

Every school is invited to be part of the Week of Respect. And not just teachers, pupils and their parents, but also residents are invited to discuss best ways in constructing and keeping a respect zone.


Each year, REF develops a new series of teaching materials for primary and secondary and vocational education to support schools in organizing activities in the Week of Respect.


Visit our online education platform

REF is working closely together with various teacher training colleges throughout the Netherlands. After all, these students are the teachers of the future and together with them we explore how respect education can be structurally embedded in the daily lessons. 

If you want to know more about REF's different programs and projects in the Netherlands, you can visit our Dutch website HERE


The Netherlands (active since 2006)

- Since 2006, 900.000 pupils in 30.000 classes on 3500 schools both primary, secondary and vocational eduction

have been involved in our annual program 'the national 'Week of Respect'