Belgium’s School System is regulated and for the most part financed by one of the three communities such as Flemish, French, and German-speaking. Thus, each of these communities has its own school system, with little difference among them. Here, the federal government plays very little role which is by it deciding directly the age for mandatory education and indirectly the financing of the communities.

Belgium School System - Education & Language School in Belgium

However, the education system is divided into four general parts: preschool education, primary education, secondary education, and Tertiary education.

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Belgium School System

Primary education for ages 6 – 12, secondary education for ages 12 – 18, and tertiary education in both university and non-university formats averaging four years. The overall school year begins in September for preprimary through secondary education and in the second week of October at universities.

Belgium is divided into three distinct language communities; The Dutch-speaking, the French-speaking, and the German-speaking. Every community has its own regulations in regard to the education system and enrolment in schools

Pre-school Education in Belgium

Pre-school education is not compulsory. In this level of education, there are few formal lessons and classes that actively prepare children for school on an educational and social level through play-focused learning.

Nurseries are also available for babies and toddlers up to 2,5 years and kindergartens (kleuteronderwijs in Dutch, enseignement maternelle in French) from them until they are up to school age.

Primary Education in Belgium

Primary education – larger onderwijs in Dutch and enseignement primaire in French – is very compulsory from ages six to 12 children in Belgium. But, the local departments of education are in charge of the requirements and curriculum of each region.

Children get assessments at every level, from pre-primary to secondary schooling, to determine whether they are ready to move to the next level of education.

Therefore, upon completing their primary education, they will graduate with a certificate of primary education, known as Certificat d’Etudes de Base (CEB) or Getuigschrift van Lager Onderwijs. This certificate gives the child access to secondary education.

Secondary Education in Belgium

Secondary education in Belgium – secundair onderwijs in Dutch; enseignement secondaire in French – is very compulsory from ages 12 to 18. However, after age 16 students can decide to study part-time and undertake vocational or technical training.

Public secondary schools in Belgium; state schools are free to all pupils, although they may require a contribution for textbook costs. The curriculum is broad to start with, but as students move into higher years, they have more choices about the subjects they take. However, in the final cycle, between ages 16 and 18, it is also very possible for students to study part-time while undergoing vocational training.

Private Secondary Schools in Belgium

Private schools offer a range of different teaching styles to students and international schools provide the opportunity to obtain globally recognized qualifications. However, International and alternative schools offer different qualifications for graduating students, including A-levels, British schools, and the International Baccalaureate.

International Baccalaureate in Belgium

The International Baccalaureate curriculum is highly recognized internationally and by higher education institutes. It is taught at a good number of primary and secondary schools in Belgium.

Tertiary Education

Tertiary education is also known as post-secondary education. It comprises a university degree, Master’s degree, doctorate degree, etc. These are simply, education squired after secondary school.

Belgium School System Ranking

Belgium’s education system is generally considered to be among the best in the world, with students consistently performing above average on international tests. According to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 results, Belgium ranks 20th in the world for overall student performance in mathematics, science, and reading.

Additionally, the United Nations Education Index ranks Belgium’s education system as one of the best in the world based on adult literacy rates and primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrolment ratios.

Furthermore, Flanders, a region in Belgium, is known for having one of the best education systems in Europe, with universities that consistently rank highly in international rankings. Overall, Belgium’s education system is highly regarded and has a good reputation for providing quality education.


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