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 official one… subsidised and free
- Free schooling… (faith schools or not), subsidised and free
- Private – not subsidised
The Belgian system
- Nursery school : from the age of 2 1/2; Not compulsory, but recommended by education experts. This is not a kindergarten, but active preparation for primary school.
- Primary school: from 6 to 12 years old-from the 1st to the 6th primary. The success of this cycle is validated by a common test at all levels : the CEB
- Secondary school : from the age of 12 to 18. There are 4 options: general, technical, artistic and professional.
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.
Registration in a Belgian school
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With regard to the equivalence of diplomas and the registration of your child in a Belgian school, provided that he is still of compulsory school age, the procedures are simple :
Above all, you must already be registered in the register of the municipality in which you have chosen to live.
1) Then make the choice of your school, the site « enseignement.be » offers you a directory of the schools :
2) Get in contact with the management of the school. It’s the administration of the school who will start the proceedings of equivalence and who will guide you with regard to the different documents to provide.
To know more on the registration of your children :
Be careful the registration to enter in first secondary grade is subject to a strict law on admissions.
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 starting from this Monday
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.
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