Living in Brussels?
Childcare and Education in Brussels
Children’s Facilities in Brussels
As with so many other aspects of everyday life, childcare in Brussels is organized by the two language communities. The Flemish organization for children and families is called Kind en Gezin. Children in the French community are taken care of by the Office de la Naissance et de l’Enfance (ONE).
For infants, toddlers, and preschool kids, you have the choice between daycare families (registered or private ones) and day nurseries. The latter work slightly differently depending on the respective language community that they are affiliated with. Various degrees of state subsidies are available for childcare facilities, depending on their official status.
Schoolchildren benefit from extracurricular activities that take place after the official school day finishes, e.g. in the form of homework schools. The schools often offer study support and private lessons, as well as cultural and leisure activities in the afternoon. Most activities are financed by the government and they are either free or cost very little.
Choosing between the Education Options
In Brussels (and all of Belgium), school is compulsory for all children between the ages of six and 18. Education is free for children at state schools and other official institutions. Belgian state schools are actually community schools, but they fulfill the same functions and obligations as state schools in other countries. Official, subsidized education is provided by municipal and provincial authorities.
Other forms of schools include private institutions often affiliated with a religious faith, especially Catholicism (free subsidized education) or private schools which are not recognized by the government, e.g. international schools. They receive no financial aid from the state, but they enjoy greater academic freedom in return. However, some of them might offer diplomas that are not officially recognized. Additional information on education in the Brussels-Capital Region can be retrieved from the Be Home website.
The Myriads of International Schools
Not surprisingly, Brussels has a plethora of international schools. Some of them cater exclusively to children of EU staff, others are open to everyone. The advantages of sending your children to an international school are plenty. Most of these schools are at least bilingual (English and French), and they frequently offer internationally recognized diploma programs, such as the International Baccalaureate.
The European Council of International Schools offers a search function which allows you to look for a registered international school in Brussels. The most famous are the International School of Brussels, the British School of Brussels, and St John’s International School. There are more international schools in Brussels, catering specifically to the French, German, Japanese, and US-American expatriate communities.
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