Children Education Guide
- Education in Belgium, as a whole, is considered to be of a very high standard, and Brussels is no exception. It is compulsory for children between the ages of 4 and 18 to receive an education, including home-schooling, regardless of their status in the country. The public schools are either owned or subsidized by the local communes, or organizations usually affilited with the Catholic church (the most common, though the education is secular). In public schools, as a result of the subsidisation, from 2.5 years of age until they are 18, children are entitled to a free education. Classes in public schools are taught in either French or Dutch depending on the province. Brussels is considered an independent province. As a result there are both French and Flemish schools in the capital city, both of which mandate teaching a second language, usually French/Dutch, German or English.Pre-school, 2.5-6 yrs – Generally a relaxed, playful environment where kids are encouraged to develop their cognitive, communication and interactive skills. Pre-schools are usually attached to a primary school, sharing facilities, and may also offer special needs education for children that may need it.Primary School, 6-12 yrs – Public schools follow a common curriculum across the country, a traditional format familiar to expats from the likes of the UK and USA.Secondary school, 12-18 yrs – Similar to the British GCSE system, the first 2 years of secondary school students follow a general path, and 2 years later must specify a path depending on their interests and skill levels. The choices become very limited at this stage and the system is often criticized as it forces children to make far-reaching decisions when they may not be fully ready, or comprehend the consequences of their choices, though there is counselling to help in their decision-making.Tertiary – Students may enroll in any university in Belgium once they have attained their secondary education diploma, though students wanting to study medicine and a few other professions may need to take an entrance or admission exam. The cost of university is relatively inexpensive as it also is heavily subsidized. Certain conditions apply that can make it more or less expensive. Generally fees begin as low as 80€ to just under 600€/yr. Belgium universities are generally rated very highly and graduation takes 4 years or more depending on specialty.