In Belgium freedom of education is a constitutional right. The constitution also guarantees a freedom of school choice for the parents. Parents and children must have access to a school of their choice within reasonable distance of their residence.
In Flanders there are three educational networks:
- GO! Education is the official education organised by the Flemish Community. The constitution prescribes a duty of neutrality for GO! Education.
- Government-aided public education comprises schools run by the municipal or provincial authorities.
- Government-aided private education is organised by a private person or organisation. The network consists primarily of catholic schools. Next to denominational schools it includes schools not linked to a religion, e.g. alternative schools (on the basis of the ideas of Freinet, Montessori or Steiner) which apply specific teaching methods.
Stages of the Education System
In order to guarantee the constitutional right to education, compulsory education has been introduced for all children residing in Belgium. Education is compulsory from 5 until 18 years of age.
Elementary education (basisonderwijs) comprises both pre-school education (kleuteronderwijs) and primary education (lager onderwijs).
Pre-school education is accessible for children from 2,5 to 6 years of age. Although it is not obligatory for children up to 5 years old, almost all children participate in pre-primary education. Pre-school education supports the versatile formation of children and stimulates their cognitive, motor and affective development.
Primary education is targeted at children from 6 to 12 years old and comprises six subsequent school years. A child usually starts primary education when it is six years old and thus obliged to engage in education.
Secondary education (secundair onderwijs) is organised for youngsters from 12 to 18. Fulltime secondary education consists of three stages and various types of education.
More information on this topic is located on the website of the Flemish government: https://www.vlaanderen.be/en/studying.
On this website (in Dutch), you can search for the school that fits your needs.