Education in Belgium: 10 features

1. Founded in 1425, the oldest Belgian university, the Catholic University of Leuven dates from the Middle Ages. Since 1970, it divided into independent French- and Dutch-speaking universities. The universities of Ghent and Liège were founded in 1817 during the period of Dutch rule, and the Free University of Brussels was opened in 1834 under an enactment by the newly formed Belgian government.
2. Among OECD countries in 2002, Belgium had the third-highest proportion of 18–21 year-olds enrolled in postsecondary education, at 42%. (OECD is Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development which has 30 member nations, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Australia.) An estimated 98% of the adult population is literate. The Programme for International Student Assessment currently ranks Belgium's education as the 19th best in the world, being significantly higher than the OECD average.
3. Mirroring the dual structure of the 19th-century Belgian political landscape, characterized by the Liberal and the Catholic parties, the educational system is segregated within a secular and a religious segment. The secular branch of schooling is controlled by the communities, the provinces, or the municipalities, while religious, mainly Catholic branch education, is organized by religious authorities, although subsidized and supervised by the communities.
4. Education in Belgium is regulated by the first Constitution of 1831, by the constitutional reform establishing cultural and linguistic communities (completed in 1993), and by several school laws. Article 17 of the Constitution of 1831 set "freedom of education," prohibiting efforts to hinder said freedom, and that the state would legislate publicly funded education. Article 17 has been consistently interpreted as meaning that the state must fund education but could not hold a monopoly in it, and that free institutions—in particular the Catholic Church—may provide public education parallel to the state.
5. Legislative action of May 1914 instituted compulsory education, to begin in the fall of the year during which the child reached age six. Initially, education was compulsory for eight years. The legislative action also stated that a Belgian could become a primary school teacher having completed only two years of education beyond primary school. In 1983, however, Belgium initiated 12 years of compulsory education, from age 6 to age 18. However, children as young as two and a half years old can attend preprimary education. Of the 12 required years, 9 must be full-time, and the last 3 years (ages 15 through 18) may be spent going to school part-time.
6. The School Pact of 1958 (made into law in 1959) recognized two basic types of schools in the provision of primary and secondary education, official schools organized by state bodies, and free schools, most of which are Catholic. Parents were given complete freedom to select the type of school attended by their children. Moreover, the state was required to provide sufficient numbers of schools of both types within commuting distance, by direct provision of official schools, subsidies to free schools, or provision of school buses. Free schools that receive a state subsidy could not charge tuition or require fees for textbooks. The 1959 law also required official primary and secondary schools to provide two hours of instruction per week in religion or morals. While almost uniquely Catholic in 1959, religious instruction gradually came to be offered in other faiths, as well. Regardless of their religious beliefs, many parents elect to enroll their children in nondenominational moral instruction.
7. In the bilingual area of Brussels, children were to receive instruction in their "mother tongue," which was determined on the basis of a written declaration by the head of the family. The 1963 law further allowed teaching of a second language to be initiated in third grade, in primary schools that were located in the Brussels region, while primary schools located in Flanders and Wallonia were required to do so only in fifth grade. As a result, "frenchification" of the Brussels capital region, geographically located to the north of the language border continued, fueling the frustration of the Flemish population.
8. Article 24 of the new Constitution decentralized educational authority and transferred it to the communities. Three types of schools coexist within each of the three communities: secular schools administered directly by the communities, grant-aided schools administered by provinces and local communes, and grant-aided free schools with or without religious denomination.
9. Education policy also is becoming more and more influenced by the needs imposed by Belgium's membership in the European Union (EU). The influence of the EU is especially evident in the teaching and utilization of technology in schools, provision of equal opportunity to children of immigrants, the equivalency ratings of diplomas obtained in other EU member countries, and access to educational exchange programs.
10. Homeschoolingis legal. In Belgium, education is compulsory, but school attendance is not. Article 24 of the Belgian Constitution offers parents “free choice” with regard to the education of their children. §6 of the Compulsory Education Act of June 29, 1983 states that home education satisfies compulsory education requirements.
          Parents who opt for home education must notify the Department of Education and Training in writing at the latest on the day home education commences. They must undertake to provide education which meets the following minimum requirements: 1) The education provided is aimed at the development of the child's full personality and talents and at preparing the child for an active adult life; 2)The education provided promotes respect for basic human rights and for the cultural values of the child himself and for others.
          The Education Inspectorate has the authority to check whether or not the home education provided complies with the objectives described. To obtain “recognized proofs of study,” pupils who have been home educated must pass an exam before the Examination Board.

How to cite this article:
Rev. John Mallare (CICM). “Education in Belgium: 10 features” @
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pic no: #12 different faces of our national HERO this pictures recognize us on how he help our country to be free :D

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