Skip to main content
Brussels Capital-Region - Homepage

Our educational challenges

In Belgium, education is compulsory up to 18 years of age and is split into four stages: nursery, primary, secondary and higher education. The Brussels-Capital Region has a very comprehensive education infrastructure, catering to all stages, network types and philosophical convictions. The Region also offers a wide range of training options for adults and children alike.

In Belgium, education is compulsory for all children of school-going age residing in Belgium, regardless of their legal status (see the law of 29 June 1983 concerning compulsory school attendance). The child is obliged to attend school for a period of 12 years commencing in the school year that starts in the year that the child reaches 6 years of age and ending at the end of the school year in the year that the child reaches 18 years of age.

Education is split into four stages: the nursery stage, which lasts three to four years, the primary stage, which is divided into six years, the secondary stage, which is also divided into six years, and the higher stage.

The period of compulsory school attendance is made up of a period of full-time education and a period of part-time education.

  • The period of full-time compulsory school attendance runs until the child reaches 15 years of age, including no more than seven years of primary education and no less than the first two years of full-time secondary education. In any event, school attendance is no longer compulsory once the child reaches 16 years of age.
  • The period of part-time compulsory school attendance, on the other hand, runs until the end of the period of compulsory school attendance. Children subject to part-time compulsory school attendance can continue in full-time education or decide to try other options: secondary alternating education (CEFA) or a training course recognised as meeting the compulsory school attendance requirement.

Education in the Brussels-Capital Region: almost 300,000 students in all stages and networks combined

Under the current structure of Belgian institutions, the Communities are the competent body as regards virtually all education matters. That means that the organisation of education in Dutch and in French in the Brussels-Capital Region is the responsibility of the competent Community. The Region is also home to European and international schools offering basic, secondary or higher education that are not under the authority of one of the two Communities. There are a small number of private schools in the Region, too, but in the overwhelming majority of cases their diplomas are not approved by the Belgian State.

The Brussels-Capital Region has a very comprehensive school and university infrastructure. In total, almost 300,000 children attend Brussels schools. Four in every five are educated in French. Brussels has a greater percentage of higher education students – university and other – than Belgium as a whole: 25.5 % of students in Brussels are in higher education, 29.8 % in secondary education, 27.8 % in primary education and 16.9 % in nursery education.

Source: Institut Bruxellois d'Analyse et Statistiques (IBSA), 2009

Keeping children in school

The school dropout rate is rising in Europe and Brussels is no exception. To confront this problem of youngsters on the streets in a positive way, the Brussels-Capital Region continues to fund its DAS school dropout plan as implemented in 2000. Within this framework, the Region supports and coordinates campaigns in the 19 communes. To find out more about DAS, see “Homework schools and study support”.

Find out more about education in Brussels

Milk, fruit and vegetables in school

The European Programmes “School Milk” and “School Fruit and Vegetables” aim to promote the consumption of milk products, fruits and vegetables. The Brussels-Capital Region co-finances this initiative to contribute to the promotion of healthy eating habits among children.

Go to the website of the Economy and Employment Administration (FR/NL) for more information and to take part in these programmes.