The school system in Belgium

In Belgium, access to education is free until the end of compulsory schooling, that is, until 18 years old.

Nevertheless, certain costs of schooling can be charged to the parents. (certain books, outside activities, school trips, sports activities, personal equipment).

Beware of the language system in Belgium! The language of education is Dutch in the Dutch region, French in the French region and German in the German region. In the Brussels-Capital Region, the languages of education are Dutch or French, as the parents choose. In the municipalities around Brussels, known as the “communes à facilités’” such as Drogenbos, Kraainem, Linkebeek, Rhode Saint-Genèse, Wemmel and Wezembeek-Oppem, the legislation is different. The language of education is Dutch. However, if the child’s mother tongue is French, and if the head of the family resides in one of these municipalities, the child may attend a French-language school.

Education in Belgium is divided into 3 types :
The Belgian system

In Brussels, the learning of Flemish in French-speaking schools and French in Flemish-speaking schools is obligatory from the third grade of primary school.
In secondary education, there are « immersion » schools which offer certain courses in Flemish.


For more details:

If you are looking for the address of a school, or references regarding the curricula, the French Community site is a mine of information:

Secrétariat général de l’enseignement catholique en communautés française et germanophone (Catholic teaching):
T 02 256 70 11 - F 02 256 70 12 -

Flemish-language teaching:
Vlaams Ministerie van Onderwijs en Vorming

Registration in a Belgian school

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Kindergarten : from 2,5 to 6 years.
Elementary school : from 6 to 12 years.
Le certificat d'étude de base (CEB) (the certificate of basic studies) gives access to secondary studies.

is between mid-February and mid-March.
If you have already attended a Belgian elementary school, you would have received an application form.
If you arrive directly from abroad, you must make a request to receive this form.
Formulaire de demande /Application Form
You can also ask for this form from your school of first choice (see below).
Make the choice of your school by order of preference, the site offers you a directory of schools/a school directory*.
Attention, the registration to enter first year of secondary is subject to a strict law concerning admissions. Criteria of distance, of brothers and sisters already registered.. will be taken into account.
If there are still some places left, your child will be registered, if not, he/she will be on the waiting list. If you are on the waiting list, we would advise you to register anyways at another school of your choice to be certain to have a place.
There is a lot of movement on the waiting lists at the beginning of the year which gives you a good chance to obtain your first choice.

Diploma's equivalence
You must make an appointment with the administration to get the equivalence of your diplomas.

To do this, you must complete the document online.
Call Center: 02 / 690.86.86

Equivalence Service of Compulsory Education
Rue A. Lavallée, 1
1080 Bruxelles

Alternative channel

To obtain your end of high school diploma, you also have the opportunity to pass by “Le Jury Central” (The Central Jury), an alternative channel which prepares you for the State examinations.
To know more 

Registration in a Belgian secondary school

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The time of "first come first served" is finished. The decree has put in place a procedure which takes place in several phases. The first starts in March. During three weeks the parents will leave the forms of registration, in person, at the secondary school of their first choice. On the form they have received, in principle, in the school where their children actually attend, it also indicates, in the order of preference, other establishments should their first choice not be possible.

If there is room, no problem and that's it : in the majority of cases. If the requests are more than the offers, and this is the case in the establishments most sought after and in Brussels in particular, it's the CIRI (Commission inter-reseaux des inscriptions) which takes the lead and which selects the requests according to the distance home-secondary school or the distance primary-secondary school in order to allot places in the most democratic way possible.

Take the unique registration form with you. It was given to you by the primary school. Without this document, the secondary school will not be able to register your child. During three weeks a series of criteria will determine what the priorities are in order to be registered.Social criteria, criterias of distance between the home and the schools, whether if a brother or sister are already registered at the chosen establishment.

This first phase of registrations last three weeks. For those who register after the date, there will not be priority criteria. The first to arrive is the first to be registered.

f you are on the waiting list, we would advise you to register anyways at another school of your choice to be certain to have a place.
There is a lot of movement on the waiting lists at the beginning of the year which gives you a good chance to obtain your first choice.

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