Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.1 General context

Last update: 28 November 2023

Main trends in young people's participation in education and training

According to the Education Indicators 2016 (les indicateurs de l’enseignement 2016): 

Participation rate

In the French-speaking Community, the majority of young people aged between 3 and 17 years old are educated. The participation rate of the youth population aged between 12 and 17 years old in the French-speaking Community’s schools amounts to 96 % in Wallonia and 76% in the Region of Brussels-Capital. 

Evolution of school’s population in specialised education

In 2014-2015, school’s population of ordinary primary school is rather steady unlike the population of specialised primary school which tends to increase especially since 2008-2009. Since 2005-2006, the school’s population of specialised primary school has increased by 14 % (from 15 469 pupils in 2005-2006 to 17 656 in 2014-2015). In the specialised secondary school, school’s population has increased too (20%) (From 14 598 in 2004-2005 to 17 538 pupils in 2014-2015).

Socio-economic disparities in primary and secondary school

The disparity between pupils according to the socio-economic indicator appears early in the school background and it gets stronger all along the compulsory education. This disparity appears with the various education forms and degrees when they are linked to the socio-economic level of the pupil’s neighbourhood. This indicator presents the public of primary and secondary education in 2014-2015 according to the socio-economic index (ISE). According to this indicator, specialised education hosts more pupils from disavandtaged economic background. A disparity exists also between various forms of secondary education.  

Organisation of the education and training system

Compulsory education

Compulsory part-time formal education ends at 18. 

Compulsory full-time education ends at the age of 15/16. It includes a maximum of 7 years of primary education and at least 2 years of full-time secondary education. 

More detailed information in Eurypedia.

Overview of main organisation of formal education

Report to Eurypedia to find a complete information about education facilities and age group

Main concepts

According to Eurypedia, “freedom of education is enshrined in the Constitution: the organisation of schools may not be subject to any restrictive measures. It is therefore possible to organise schools that have no links to the public authorities. However, schools that wish to confer recognised qualifications and benefit from subsidies from the Community must comply with the provisions of laws, decrees, and regulations”.

High degree of autonomy


According to Eurypedia, since most powers with regard to education have been transferred to the Communities, a twofold shift has been taking place in the French Community: on the one hand, an increasing degree of management autonomy is being granted to institutions, in addition to the high degree of freedom which was already theirs in terms of educational methods; on the other hand, this increasing autonomy has been accompanied by the introduction of new regulatory mechanisms to ensure the development of fairly run schools that perform to a high standard.

Early school leaving

The decree adopted on 21 November 2013 defines “school drop-out” 

1)    as the situation of a pupil who is under compulsory schooling and:

-    who is registered in a school but does not attend courses without a valid reason ; 

-    who is not registered in any school and who is not educated at home ; 

2)    as the situation of a pupil who is under compulsory schooling, registered in a school but who didn’t attend courses, without a valid reason, for more than 20 half-schooldays

The decree adopted on 21 November 2013 defines “early school leaving” as a situation in which a pupil leaves school or training without having graduated from the first cycle of secondary school and who is no longer in education or training