Children attending school

Every child in Belgium can go to school, regardless of their nationality or residence situation. In Belgium, school is compulsory for all children aged 5 to 18.

When are schools open?

Schools are open from Monday to Friday, from 1 September until 30 June.

  • School usually starts at 8.30am and ends between 3pm and 5pm.
  • School finishes at 12pm on Wednesdays.
  • There is no school on Saturdays and Sundays.
Children in class

School holidays

There are school holidays 4 times a year: all schools in Belgium are closed during these periods:

  • Autumn holiday (1 week)
  • Christmas holiday (2 weeks)
  • Spring half-term (1 week)
  • Easter holiday (2 weeks)

There is also no school on national holidays.

Enrolling your child at a school

  • Non-Belgian children between 3 and 5 years old can go to school from their first day in Belgium.
  • Children between 5 and 18 years old must be enrolled in a school at the latest 2 months after registering with the municipality.
  • Even children without legal residency can attend school in Belgium. The school is not allowed to refuse them.

Language of the school: Dutch or French

If children cannot speak Dutch or French, or lack proficiency, they are entitled to adapted lessons in the school: reception classes or 'OKAN' classes, reception classes for non-native speakers. When they have sufficient proficiency in the language, they move on to a standard class.

  • If you live in Flanders, your children will attend a school where lessons are taught in Dutch.
  • If you live in Wallonia, your children will follow lessons in French.
  • If you live in Brussels, your children can attend school in Dutch or French.

School costs

School is free, from nursery school to the age of 18. You do however need to pay some additional costs: school dinners, school trips, etc. If you are staying in a reception centre, Fedasil will pay the school costs. If you have difficulty paying the costs, you can apply for an education allowance.

Questions about school?

  • In every reception centre, there is a school counsellor who can advise parents and children if they have questions regarding school. Talk about this with your social worker.
  • You can make an appointment with the teacher at the school. What if you don't speak any Dutch or French? Ask a friend or family member who can help with translation.