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Urban Management

Zuidoost Field Lab

Better policy in the Zuidoost district

In the Zuidoost Field Lab, the city district and the Pogled u Plavo want to work on the social issues in the city district in collaboration with ZuidoostPartners and partners from the communities.

amsterdamse poort

Street in South East Amsterdam

The Field Lab links thinkers and doers and pursues long-term and sustainable cooperation, based on mutual trust and respect. In this way the Field Lab can contribute to the quality of interventions in Zuidoost, which should ultimately lead to improvements in policy for residents, businesses and visitors in Zuidoost.

Based on area agendas of the Zuidoost city district and conversations with the public servants and stakeholders involved, the following projects have been initiated:


Three big phone bills, a handful of fines and a special course to get your licence back after being disqualified from driving; the result is a substantial debt from which it is difficult to recover. This is a familiar situation for many young people in the Zuidoost district. Explore on scarcity shows that, once you are in debt, it is difficult to make the correct decisions in other areas of life, with all the accompanying consequences. This is because scarcity – a shortage of money in this case – influences mental ability. Being in debt is a significant obstacle in the development towards independence. How can we and our partners find new, more suitable forms of support to increase the financial self-reliance and economic independence of young people in Zuidoost? And how do young people feel about this? These questions are the focus of this research. We combine knowledge with the programmes offered in Zuidoost and link this to the latest evidence-based methods in order to explore the possibilities of enabling young people to develop new skills so that they can make the right decisions in the future.


Amsterdam's city centre is busy, but this provides good opportunities for the outskirts of Amsterdam. This project is studying how the Zuidoost city district can develop a strong position as an attractive part of the Amsterdam metropolitan area. Expansion of the area around the Amsterdam ArenA is the most obvious choice, but there may also be other directions in which development can take place. We are zooming in further on these directions in collaboration with various stakeholders from the Zuidoost district, using the power of imagology. Alternative directions for development are worked out together, while everyone's roles in this respect are clarified simultaneously. The research provides points of reference for stakeholders, for example in determining market position and strategy. It also provides a number of tools to familiarise visitors with these alternative images of Zuidoost.

Statistically, Zuidoost is a city district with a relatively high level of unemployment. In some communities, up to one-third of the population is living below subsistence level. However, behind the figures are the stories of people with various backgrounds. They come together in Zuidoost to pioneer with new forms of activity from which the city can draw lessons. What exactly does this flourishing informal economy in Zuidoost look like? Which opportunities can the community offer to residents in order to create a better life for themselves and their loved ones? How do the residents themselves perceive this? We enter into discussions on this: how do residents shape their own activity and what is needed in order to enhance the development of residents and local businesses and their networks? This has an impact on the quality of life in and vitality of the community. In this way we aim to contribute to a flourishing community economy and provide points of reference to local policymakers and businesses. We also want to develop a number of interventions, aimed at individual support for residents and business owners.


The Bijlmer Centrum area in the Zuidoost city district consists of two different neighbourhoods, each with its own dynamics and active residents' networks. Residents know their neighbourhood better than anyone and have various wishes and ideas. How does a city district – in cooperation with these different groups – determine which issues receive attention at neighbourhood level? How do you organise proper representation of the neighbourhood and what is the best way of shaping communication between residents and the city district? A group of first-year Public Administration students is spending the first two study periods of the academic year exploring the possibilities on behalf of the city district. They are studying the theory and entering into discussions with residents. Is there support for a residents' platform, for example? Or are there other innovative methods that fit with the needs of the community? The students will present their proposals to the city district and one of these proposals will be worked out in more detail.

Functional illiteracy is a recognised societal issue, which has been explicitly on the political-administrative agenda in recent years. Figures on functional illiteracy are alarming. Previous field research by the AUAS has revealed far higher outcomes than the figures known up to that time. Much of the issue is due to hidden functional illiteracy, which makes the population difficult to reach.


The aim of the research is to identify the scope and locations of functional illiteracy in the Zuidoost city district. There is currently not enough knowledge concerning the precise areas of Zuidoost in which functionally illiterate individuals can be found. Creating more insight into the scope and locations of functionally illiterate individuals will enable the development of policy to reach more people for schooling or other approaches. This will contribute to an effective approach to functional illiteracy. 


Many children in Amsterdam grow up in vulnerable situations. Urban Management is contributing to the future prospects of young children through the Kitchen Table Project. AUAS Training students provide support to families at home, which leads to the creation of a better home learning environment and stimulation of academic and other skills of both children and their parents.

The effectiveness of the support programme on the participating families and the home learning environment is being studied as part of the project. The expected result is that children perform better at school thanks to an improved attitude towards learning and more attention for academic development from home. The parents learn how to support their children better and the students gain important practical experience. Because this concerns a home situation around ‘the kitchen table’, younger siblings might join in. The idea is that a parent becomes become more and more actively involved in the child's learning process and slowly takes over the student's role. In addition to this practical support at the kitchen table, an exploratory study is being conducted to identify:

  1. Which forms of support and initiatives are used outside the regular school system in the Zuidoost district.
  2. What are the possible protective and hindering factors for a successful school career for the children in the participating families in Amsterdam Zuidoost?
  3. What is known in the literature with regard to effective support offered in addition to the regular school system. 


Published by  Urban Management 9 February 2016

Financial Self Reliance Explore Project

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