Education in Brussels

School system in Brussels

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In the Belgian system, the French community is in charge of the education in Bruxelles.

All youths (even illegaly resident in Belgium) have a right to education. This principle is guaranteed by the Belgian Constitution (Art. 24).

From the 60th day after the registration of the family in the town hall inhabitant book, the youth is meant to attend school.

The Belgian education is divided into 3 cycles: fundamental primary education, secondary education, superior education (short or long cycle) and university education.

Courses in all the fundamental schools (nursery and primary) are organised into cycles, usually 2 to 3 years, when the pupils acquires basic knowledge.

The organization in cycles is such as:

Cycle Age
nursery from 2,5 to 6 years (non mandatory)
primary from 6 to 12 years
secondary from 12 to 18 years
post-baccalaureat above 18 ans (non mandatory)

The registration in a nursery school is possible throughout the school year.
The registration in a primary school is possible at the latest on the first day of September, except in exceptional situations (if the child comes from abroad). In all cases, commuinal primary schools and nurseries must regsiter any child with parents living in the area and who ask for it before the end of Spetember. After this date, parents must ask for a derogation before the Minister.

In Brussels, all types of education are done either in French or in Dutch and in state schools the study of a second language is mandatory from the 3rd primary.
Nearly all the schools are mixed and pupils are not boarding.
Hours are between 8am (8.30) to 3.30pm or 4pm. All scholls offer the possibility of half boarding (hot meal at lunch time) and most of them offer child care services from 4pm to 6pm where they help children to do their homework.

The first evaluation is made at the earliest at the end of the 2nd year in primary school and an exam is necessary at the end of the primary school to get the C.E.B (Certificat d’Etude de Base - Basic Certificate).

Within the reform that took place at the end of the 60s, the Belgian state reorganized the secondary education. Thus, most of the schools organize currently an education of type 1 (called renovated education). However the education as it was before the 70s still exists in the school of type 2.

Education of type 1

It is organised in 3 degree, each of them for 2 years:

  1. Observation degree (1st and 2nd year)
  2. Orientation degree (3rd and 4th year)
  3. Determination degree (5th and 6th year)

The first degree (observation) starts with a first year of common training called 1st A. Pupils with the CEB are registered automatically in 1st A. Pupils with difficulties can go to 1st B where the education is more personnalized.

From the 3rd year one have to make a choice between two sections: The Transition section or the Technical (or artistical) and professional qualification.

The transition section

The general, technical ar artistical section prepares usually to the superior education. There is a choice between:

  • General degree (100% in general courses)
  • Technical degree (a mix of technical or artistical degree - 100% in general courses)

The qualification section

The section of Qualification prepares to working life with a certificate of qualification. There are two choices:

  • Technical degree (a mix of technical and artistical courses - with 50% of general courses and 50% of options with qualifications)
  • Professional degree (professional education with 25% of general courses and 75% of options with qualifications)

At the end of the 3rd degree (6th year), the professional education offers the possibility to follow a 7th year to obtain either an additional qualification in a domain close to the one that has been studied (CQ - Certificat de Qualification), either a high secondarary education certificate (certificat de l’enseignement secondaire supérieur - CESS) that gives access to short superior studies, either both. There are three types of professional 7th: A (CQ only), B (CQ and CESS) and C (CESS only).

Education of type 2

It's a minority of secondary schools and it is structured in 2 cycles of 3 years each:

  1. Inferior cycle (3 first years of secondary education)
  2. Superior cycle (3 last years of secondary education)

Education of types 2 offers only 2 sections: General and Technical (there is no distinction with transition or qualification)

General secondary education of types 2 groups:

  • Old Humanities that offers sections such as latin-grec, latin-maths and latin-sciences
  • Modern Humanities that offers sections such as scientific A (mainly maths), scientific B (mainly sciences), human sciences and economic sciences.

The evaluation of each year of the secondary education (except the first one) gives a mark from the class council, called AOA, AOB or AOC. The Attestation d’Orientation A means that the school year has been achieved with a success. The AOB means there are some issues and to pass in the next level will be granted with restrictions on further orientation. The AOC means that the pupil has failed the year. At the end the pupil will have to obtain the CESS that gives access to fuperior education.

Superior education

The European directive named "Bologne" has been implemented in the French speaking community in Belgium since September 2004. It means that the degrees will follow 3 cycles: Licence, 3 years - Master, 5 years - PhD, 8 years making easier the comparisons of graduation within the European Union.

Short superior education

There are 3 years of studies and have precise professional objectives (theory and practice are often linked). There are internships in professional areas or in laboratory. It is taught outside university.

Long superior education

There are always a minimum of 4 years of studies and it is both general and in depth. It is taught in Universities and outside (High Schools - artistical domain, communication..., army...).

University studies are divided into cycles:

Cycle Grade Duration Education
1st Bachelor grade 3 years (180 crédits) It includes the programmes that lead to a bachelor degree and is mandatory for superior education.

Master grade

Doctor or vet grade

Complémentary master grade

1 years (60 credits) or 2 years (60 credits)

4 years (240 credits) or 3 years (180 credits)

Complementary Master in 1 year, after a master in 5 years

Those studies are specialized with, most of the time, presentation of a dossier/dissertation at the end.
3rd PhD about 3 years It gives a certificate to research abilities

Regsitration services are open from June to September, continiously or including breaks, depending on Universities. You will find a detail form of information on registration process, if you are a Belgian Studant or a foreign national on the Bruxelles-J website.

Minerval : It's the tuition fees and varies according to schools, education level and the personal situation of the pupil (foreigner, grants...).
: They are course documents that it is necessary to purchase from the school or university. U document costs abotu 5 €.

Update 18/11/2005


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