25 - Establishing facilities and provisions in the Noordoostpolder: healthcare and education

The Noordoostpolder was reclaimed and established by workers who were housed in special camps. Naturally, these workers need medical care. When the first permanent inhabitants arrived in 1943, medical care was of course also one of the first necessities. Schools had to be built for the children of these pioneers. The facilitation of these provisions was also the responsibility of the Board.

General Practitioner Care

The Board established a Healthcare Service organise the medical care of the camp workers. The service was managed by physician J.J. Zwarteveen. The doctors worked in more than one camp and travelled around the empty polder and between the camps on motorcycles. Camp doctor  J.H. Jansen established his general practice in Emmeloord after the war, but he remained in the service of the Board. In the 1950s former camp doctor M. Rijken started his practice as an independent GP in Marknesse. His colleague A.K. Iwema did the same in Ens. The position of the first GPs was difficult. The polder population was young and healthy and it was not easy or the GPs to make a living. In 1944 the camp doctors also set up child health care centres. They kept that right as independent GPs, so they were able to somewhat increase their income. Midwives were not allowed to start a practice in the polder. 

Doctor Marinus Rijken and orderly Steef Oerlemans on a motorcycle. They drove into the polder from Vollenhove to the workers' camps to hold surgery hours, 1943. Mr Rijken started his GP practice in Marknesse in 1949. 

Hospital care

During the German occupation it was not always possible to transfer the seriously ill to hospitals outside the polder. Therefore, the Board opened up an emergency hospital near Vollenhove in March 1943.

The hospital barracks near Vollenhove.

This hospital was nothing more than a wooden barrack. The 34 beds were cribs, with sacks filled with straw as a mattress. In the early 1950s the government granted permission to build a local hospital in Emmeloord. The hospital would be governed by a foundation, named after GP Jansen, who had died in an accident in 1950. Chairman of the board of the foundation called Stichting Dokter J.H. Jansenziekenhuis was 'landdrost' (magistrate) A.P. Minderhoud, who had replaced Mr Smeding. The civil engineering and architect firm of A.H.J. Swinkels and B.H.F.L. Salemans from Maastricht designed the new building. Because of financial reasons, this design could not be built for many years. In the meantime, the emergency hospital near Vollenhove no longer met the requirements, so the Board had a temporary hospital built on the Staalstraat in Emmeloord, which became operational in 1956.

The temporary hospital on the Staalstraat, Emmeloord

On 13 April 1962, Ms Tilly Jansen, daughter of the general practitioner Jansen, finally laid the foundation stone for the Dokter J.H. Jansen Hospital. The first patient was carried into the hospital on 3 January 1964.

Laying the foundation stone of the Dokter J.H. Jansen Hospital by Ms Tilly Jansen, 1962.

Small but full-fledged

The Dokter J.H.Jansen Hospital was a small but full-fledged local hospital. It had 150 beds, divided over five wards. All the basic specialisms were available.Dokter J.H. Jansen Hospital.

The Homecoming of Jacob Martijn Roosenburg, 1964. The Dokter Jansen Hospital became operational in 1964.

The sculpture 'The Homecoming' was placed at its main entrance. When the hospital in Emmeloord merged with the Zuiderzee Hospital in Lelystad in 1990, the sculpture was moved to one of the courtyards. On the initiative of photographer Hans Veenhuis from Emmeloord, it was returned to the main entrance in January 2005.


During the 1970s the Dokter J.H. Jansen Hospital collaborated with local hospital De Engelenbergstichting in Kampen in the Gemeenschappelijke Regeling Ziekenhuizen Noord-West Overijssel (Joint Scheme Hospitals Northwest Overijssel). On 1 January 1990, in collaboration with the Zuiderzee Hosptial in Lelystad, the Gemeenschappelijke Regeling IJsselmeerziekenhuizen (Joint Scheme IJsselmeer Hospitals) was founded, but without hospital De Engelenbergstichting. One year later, the Joint Scheme was converted into the Stichting IJsselmeerziekenhuizen (IJsselmeer Hospitals Foundation). 

On 13 April 2012 the youngest grandson of Doctor J.H. Jansen laid flowers at the plaque in the hospital, on behalf of all the grandchildren. 

Unfortunately, the collaboration between the two hospitals never really became fruitful. Conflicts, especially between the medical specialists in Emmeloord (partnerships) and Lelystad (working as employees), led to an unworkable situation. The Executive Board was unable to conciliate both parties. Even the population of Urk and the Noordoostpolder increasingly turned away from the hospital. This resulted in uncontrollable dynamics, leading to its downfall (leidde tot de ondergang van het Dokter J.H. Jansenziekenhuis). Now, in 2011, there are two competing outpatient clinics in Emmeloord, at 600 metres from each other and along the same road.

The Dokter Jansen Centre, as part of the MC Groep is housed in the former hospital building, while the Antonius Ziekenhuis in Sneek has built its own outpatient clinic at the location of the former vocational agricultural college. The GP out-of-hours surgery is also located here..

The Antonius Hospital outpatient clinic


As stipulated by law in the Lager Onderwijswet van 1920 the municipal councils were responsible for primary education. For the Noordoostpolder, this meant that the public body 'de Noordoostelijke Polder' had to arrange for proper primary education in a sufficient number of schools, which had to accept all children regardless of their religious denomination. The 'landdrost' (magistrate) also had to give permission for the foundation of denominational schools when applications for these were made which adhered to the legal requirements. Director Smeding wanted to postpone the coming of denominational schools in the polder for as long as possible. He believed that the typical Dutch pillarisation in education would be a threat to the establishment of this new society. He wanted to have neutral schools, where children of all denominations would be educated together. The first primary school started on 15 April 1943, in a wooden barrack of the workers' camp near Ramspol. The public body took the role as board of governors. All religious education in the polder schools was taken care of by the churches. All teachers would have their own religious believes, but they were not allowed to express their convictions in the classroom.

State school in camp II in Ens, opened on 15-04-1943.

The Juliana School in 1946, the first primary school in Emmeloord. The school building was a temporary one. 

Some of the Protestant inhabitants of the Noordoostpolder were not satisfied with the neutral education in the polder. In 1947 they founded a foundation that aimed to establish schools according to their own Christian believes and asked Director Smeding for permission to open a denominational school. He agreed after some hesitation. Ten years later, each village had its neutral, Protestant and Catholic primary school.

Secondary education

Children grow older and the need for secondary education arose. According to plan these schools were to be built in Emmeloord. In the beginning, the Board tried to set up a school for all denominations, but the Protestant people did not agree with that. They had enough children to establish their own school. The Christian ULO (lower secondary education) started in 1952, and the Christian HBS (higher secondary education) in 1955. After several mergers with other schools, they came together in the Emelwerda College. The Catholic ULO School (Bonifatius mavo) opened its doors in Emmeloord in 1954. The building, with six classrooms, was consecrated by Pastor Morselt after which it was opened with all kinds of festivities.

  1. R. Catholic ULO School (Bonifatius mavo) in 1954.

The Professor Ter Veen Lyceum was also opened in 1955, and is now the Zuyderzee College

Emmeloord, Panorama St. Joseph School and surroundings: In the background on the left is the Catholic ULO School and on the right the St. Joseph School.

Pillarisation also happened in the different levels of agricultural education. In 1977 all agricultural schools were joined under one executive board: the agricultural education centre AOC. The Landbouwpraktijkschool (vocational agricultural college) on the Urkerweg, which opened its doors in 1958, was quite unique: all agricultural organisations worked together in this initiative. Children coming from all levels of all the agricultural schools in the Netherlands would come here for practical lessons in arable farming. In 2004 the location in Emmeloord was closed and moved to Dronten.


During the 1970s the polder had to deal with serious problems. Employment in the agricultural industry went down, the growth of many villages came to a halt and the number of children declined. This became a threat to the survival of the schools. The different denominational schools had to join forces, resulting in cooperative schools, in various combinations, in several villages.

  1. P. Christiaanse designed the neutral primary school De Wending in 1951-52 (Zuidwent 4, Bant), a school with four classrooms, a staff room and later on a play-practice room, 1956.

ow: cooperative school De Wending

Since then, the need to join forces has only increased. That was the reason for the neutral primary education and the Catholic Christophorus Foundation to merge into the organisation Aves. It is expected that more and more village schools will merge. The municipality is aiming for so-called 'children centres' in the polder villages, in which all institutions related to children will be collaborating. Something many of those early pioneers were actually dreaming of.