MBO College Zuid: Community College in and for Zuidas
It’s almost ten years ago that the ROC College opened its doors in the north end of Zuidas. These days the MBO College is no longer alone on the outskirts and it’s becoming increasingly interwoven with the district. Even so, links with local companies and employers aren’t strong enough yet, according to operational director Christiane Estourgie and board president Sonja Hoogendoorn, and MBO College Zuid is eager to make those connections at various levels.
Every ROC College (ROCs are regional training centres) has its own focus areas. At MBO College Zuid, a senior secondary vocational school, that focus is on the cultural and creative industries. “We ended up here in 2012 because of the location, cooperation with the RAI and the outpouring of vocal music, dance and theatre productions”, Christiane explains. “It was a good fit with the city of Amsterdam’s cultural and events programming.” The college’s mission also ties in with neighbouring VU Amsterdam’s ambition to be sustainable, enterprising and diverse. There are even plans in the making to develop an on-campus centre that both institutions can use.
The college has programmes at four levels. Level three and four graduates can continue to higher professional education (Dutch HBO). Christiane: “Many go on to higher education because they’re still very young and either don’t know yet what they want or are ambitious and keen to broaden their horizons. Also, we encourage continuous education and retraining at the vocational level.” The pandemic has raised major concerns about pupils falling behind at school. For College Zuid, it opened up an opportunity to digitize and offer ‘blended learning’, which wasn’t an option before. But Sonja stresses that, as the pandemic drags on, motivation is ebbing. “All the practical courses need to resume as soon as possible. And it’s so important for pupils to learn and discuss things together so they can grow socially as well.”
Still in development are plans to become a community college, Christiane continues. “MBO College Zuid is a school with creative young talents. As well as hiring out our gymnasium and auditorium for local activities, we’d also love to connect with more businesses in Zuidas. For our pupils, it’s wonderful to meet local business owners and work on projects for them.” MBO College Zuid is ready and excited to launch new partnerships, Sonja confirms. “To organize an afternoon where pupils and personnel can visit places in Zuidas that have something to teach about enterprise and sustainability – that would be amazing.”