Which school to choose
Your search for a school will start with the choice between international and Belgian schools, each choice has its own advantages. If you are planning to stay in Belgium for a short period, or moving on to another foreign country following your stay, an international school may provide your child with a sense of continuity.
If you would like your child to experience the local culture and pick up the language, you may prefer to choose a Belgian school. Another factor to consider is the considerable price difference.
prepare your relocation, but especially for your children
Before you leave, you can already enjoy Dutch-speaking distance education to introduce your child(ren) to the education system in Belgium. This can take away a whole stress barrier and makes the first adaptation weeks after your move easier not only for your child(ren) but especially for you.
By offering personalised online education tailored to your needs delivered by a qualified team of teachers, pedagogues and speech therapists you can guarantee a smooth start. And this in primary education, secundary education and as lifelong learning options.
–> If you are interested or wish to get in touch with the service provider, contact us and we will connect you!
High quality education
Generally, schools in Belgium offer high-quality education.
Compulsory education (leerplicht) applies to all children aged 6 to 18, or until a child obtains a ‘diploma’.
- Pre-school in Belgium is free and available from the age of 2 1/2 to age 6 with approximately 99% of students attending by age 5.
- Primary school is from ages 6-12 (6 years)
- Secondary school is also a 6 year program divided into two year blocks (3 steps).
OKAN – Reception class for non-native newcomers
Most non-Dutch-speaking children begin in a reception class for newcomers (OKAN) to prepare them for mainstream education, lasting one to two years depending on circumstances.
OKAN has three main objectives:
- Providing a Dutch language immersion course to ensure a good understanding of regular lessons.
- Offering an integration program to familiarise youngsters with Flemish and Belgian social norms, aiding in social interactions.
- Preparing students for mainstream education choices.
Even after OKAN, students receive support in mainstream education from a designated follow-up school coach.
In Limburg, various schools offer OKAN across the province, with choice often influenced by future residency and school accessibility.
Consideration should also be given to the distinction between official state education and private education. Official education allows students to choose religious or non-religious ethics lessons, while private education, mainly Catholic, requires attendance in Catholic religious classes.
–> our advice: visiting prospective schools in advance is advisable to understand their operations, facilitating a well-informed decision for your child’s schooling.
good to know
In Belgium, you have publicly-run and privately-run schools. Publicly-run schools are both funded and run by the government. Privately-run schools have their own boards, which usually consist of parents or representatives of the foundation which established the school. Privately-run schools do not receive any government funding.
Since private schools do not receive government support, enrolment and tuition fees are requested. The amounts vary greatly and can add up. Inform yourself well in advance.
The quality of education organised in private schools is not controlled by the government, which is not to say that the courses cannot be quality. Please also inform yourself about this before you sign anything.
Most schools will ask parents to pay in part for extra expenses such as books, excursions and cultural activities. The amount of this contribution varies from 150 – 500 euro, depending on the school and activities planned in that year.
Other services for EXPAT
Visas and work permitsLearn how to get your papers in order for work permits
TransportationPublic transportation tips and tricks
Learning DutchVarious ways and tips on how to learn Dutch
Traveling partnersThe spotlight on supporting partners
Higher educationOptions for foreigners and diploma validation
Social SecurityWe explain how it works
HealthcareNational and international health funds