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Humanism and Philosophy

Research on civic service project MDT (completed)

Rapport MDT

  • Period: 1 September 2022 - 1 June 2023
  • Status: completed

The civic service project MDT (Maatschappelijke Diensttijd) is aimed at young people aged between 12 and 30 who participate in volunteer projects for about six months alongside their studies, school or work. The University of Humanistic Studies studied what participants' expectations were and what they learned. Participants were not so sure what to expect, it turned out, but most experiences were positive afterwards. You can download the report. 


In 2018, the Dutch government, in cooperation with the Nederlandse Jeugdraad  (NJR, Dutch Youth Council), the Vereniging Nederlandse Organisaties Vrijwilligerswerk (NOV,  Association of Dutch Voluntary Work Organisations) and ZonMw, launched the civic service project.  The aim is to develop talents, meet others and do something for another. Since its launch, about 60,000 young people have participated and there is a national MDT network with almost 5,000 organisations that young people can turn to. They can complete their MDT time in various sectors: nature & animals, technology & ICT, politics & governance, education & education, media & culture, sports, safety, care & welfare.

MDT Education and MDT YourCube

The TijdVoorAction Foundation has been involved in MDT from the first experimental phase and is currently shaping two MDT projects: MDT Education and MDT YourCube. 

MDT Education is intended for pupils aged 12 to 30 from partner schools (vo, mbo, hbo and wo) and serves as a practical implementation of existing learning objectives in education. This pathway is usually completed within teaching time. MDT YourCube is aimed at all young people aged between 14 and 30. Depending on the interests and qualities of the participants, a suitable pathway is developed and completed over six months, with an average commitment of three hours per week.

Research University of Humanistic Studies

The University of Humanistic Studies examined what participants who took part in MDT Education and MDT YourCube in 2020 and 2022 expected at the start of their MDT pathways and what they learned in the pathways. The study shows that participants in both pathways did not know quite what to expect beforehand. However, they did have an idea of what they wanted to learn or develop in. 

For the younger participants (who mainly participated in MDT Education), it was mainly about getting to know themselves better so they know better what kind of work they want to do later. The older age groups (who mainly participated in MDT YourCube) mainly wanted to learn skills that would allow them to better practice the profession they already do or want to do. In retrospect, participants in both pathways are very positive, even if they sometimes found the work challenging and occasionally ran into constraints.

Volunteer work gives great satisfaction

The quantitative research makes clear that participants - after both MDT trajectories - score significantly more positively on a significant part of the measured competences. Participants indicate that they have gained more self-confidence, that they can handle more than they thought beforehand, and that they are no longer afraid to approach people. They are also more positive about volunteering. They have experienced that volunteering is very fulfilling and that it is "something very beautiful".



Stichting TijdVoorActie 


PDF fileDownload report (in Dutch)

The University of Humanistic Studies examined what participants who participated in MDT Education and MDT YourCube in 2020 and 2022 expected at the start of their MDT pathways and what they learned in the pathways.