Eight-year compulsory schooling was introduced in 1914
with constitutional right for parents to choose school for
their children. In 1983, compulsory schooling, which now
includes ages 6-18, was extended. The primary school is six
years old. It is followed by the secondary school of two
plus four years. There is both a French and a Flemish school
system, each with its own Ministry of Education. Teaching
should be given in the language that dominates the region.
In Brussels, students can choose the language of instruction
according to their mother tongue. For children aged 3 to 6,
there are nursery schools, where nine out of ten children of
these ages attend. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Belgium.
The state-supported municipal schools, écoles
officiales, are religiously neutral, while so-called
free schools, écoles libres, with government grants
are run by communities and organizations, mainly Catholic.
Of the children in the Flemish regions, 2/3 go to the free
schools; In the French-speaking regions, more than half of
the children attend public schools.
In Leuven there is Belgium's oldest university, founded
in 1425. It has since 1970 been divided into two independent
universities, one French-speaking and one Flemish. In
addition, there are fifteen universities and a large number
of other higher schools. The largest universities are those
in Leuven and Brussels.