Belgium offers the full range of schooling possibilities for all ages, from infants to 18 year-olds. So, first of all, you’ll need to decide whether you want to integrate your child into the local Belgian system or take advantage of the many international schools located throughout the country. To help you decide, here are some quick facts about the various possibilities.
In general, Belgian education is divided into state (non-denominational) schools and Catholic schools. All of these schools are tuition-free and issue equivalent certified diplomas. You pay a limited contribution to the cost of school supplies, field trips, and text books when children enter the secondary school level.
The Belgian pre-school, primary and secondary schools follow these age groupings:
0 - 3 years: Nursery
Nursery places fill up very quickly, so you should reserve a place as soon as possible. They are subsidised by the government or privately funded. To help meet the demand, there are also a variety of nurseries run by private individuals out of their homes.
2,5 - 6 years: Kindergarten
Kindergarten in Belgium is not mandatory, but children from the age of 2,5 usually attend kindergarten on a daily basis. Kindergarten prepares children for the educational system by developing social skills and gently introducing the structure of schooling in an enjoyable way.
6 - 12 years: Primary school
Primary schools teach a standard range of subjects, including languages, mathematics, geography, history, and so on. Homework is a part of the educational system from early on.
12 - 18 years: Secondary school
Secondary school progresses through 3 stages, starting off with general studies in the early years, after which students can specialise in general, vocational, technical, or artistic streams depending on individual choice and ability. Assessment is ongoing and strictly enforced.
International schools are a good choice for parents who want their children to remain in a familiar system. These schools are located primarily in the Brussels area, but they are also present in the other major cities. They are typically private, and therefore you pay tuition.
Traditionally, European schools required at least one parent to be working for an EU institution − but, in recent years, certain schools have eased their entry requirements.
Education is in the child’s mother tongue, with a second language introduced at the primary school level, and a third language from the second year of secondary school.
Method schools adopt the methodology of a particular educational philosophy. In these schools, children often learn through discovery and the liberal arts, with subjects such as grammar, mathematics and science being taught from direct experience rather than in a formal setting.
The Celstin Freinet system follows this approach; the Steiner schools place greater emphasis on the arts. There is a selection of the world-famous Montessori schools in Belgium, which teach children in small, focused groups according to the relaxed self-developmental Montessori method.
Method schools are really flourishing in Ghent. So, if you are looking for a method school, it is certainly worth your while to choose an MBA programme that is (partly) held on our Ghent Campus.
The choice is wide, and the educational standards are high. You must, of course, also base your decision on whether you will be living in Belgium only briefly or over a longer term. Either way, your child will have a positive educational experience while you earn your Vlerick MBA!