School and Education in Belgium


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.

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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.

Belgium Country Flag

Belgium flag source:

Country data

Area: 30,528 km2 (world ranking: 137)

Residents: 11,372,000

Population density: 373 per km2 (as of 2017, world ranking: 80)

Capital: Brussels / Bruxelles / Brussels

Official languages: Dutch, French, German

Gross domestic product: 437.2 billion euros; Real growth: 1.7%

Gross national product (GNP, per resident and year): 41,790 US$

Currency: 1 euro (Euro) = 100 cents


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Head of State: Philippe, Prime Minister: Charles Michel, Exterior: Didier Reynders

National holiday: 21.7. (Oath of office of King Leopold I 1831)

Administrative structure
3 regions with parliaments: Flanders, Wallonia and the capital region of Brussels; 3 communities with parliaments: Flemish community (community parliament with Flanders), French community, German-speaking community; 10 provinces, Brussels capital region

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State and form of government
Constitution of 1831/1994
Federal parliamentary monarchy
Parliament: Chamber of Deputies (Chambre des Représentants / Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers) with 150 members, election every 4 years; Senate (Sénat / Senaat) with 60 members (50 appointed by regional parliaments, 10 co-opted)
compulsory voting from 18 years.

Population: Belgian, last census 2011: 11,000,638 residents
2001: 59% Flemings, 40% Walloons, 1% German-speaking community Proportion of foreigners 2017: 11.9%

Cities (with population): (as of 2018) Brussel / Bruxelles / Brussels 1,198,726 residents (Région de Bruxelles-Capitale / Brussels-Capital Region), Antwerp / Anvers 523,248, Gent / Gand 260,341, Charleroi 201,816, Liège / Luik / Liege 197,355, Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek 133,010, Brugge / Bruges / Brugge 118,284, Namur / Namen 110939

Religions: 72% Catholics, 8% Muslims, 1% Protestants, 0.4% Jews; 16% without religion (as of 2006)

Languages: 59% Dutch (Flemish), 40% French (Walloon), 1.2% German

Employed by economic sector: Agriculture. 1%, industry 21%, business 78% (2017)

Unemployment (in% of the labor force)
2017: 7.1%

Inflation rate (in%): 2017: 2.2%

Foreign trade: Import: 360.2 billion euros (2017); Export: 381.0 billion euros (2017)