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Cross-sectorial cooperation Education & Employment: the dual vocational training system
SME training is very popular in East Belgium. For many young people, an apprenticeship represents the first step into the world of work. Businesses are very appreciative of the practical qualification of the apprentices. The practical part of the training is taught in the business. The theoretical part and the "general education" and "languages" subjects are taught at the vocational school (Berufsschule).
And this system pays off: in East Belgium, depending on the economic situation, 95 % of those qualifying find a job within six weeks of finishing an apprenticeship.
In addition, we are forging cooperation agreements with other regions to provide double qualifications in the educational area. Being able to work in two countries with one training qualification? No problem. Thus for example car mechatronics technicians or hairdressers can obtain two qualifications for one training course, which will be recognised both in East Belgium and in the CIC district of Aachen. This is the advantage of the border position of East Belgium for young people.
The education system at federal level
Since 1989 education has no longer been one of the areas of responsibility of the federal parliament and the federal government; now each of the three communities is itself exclusively responsible for it with the exception of:
- laying down the start and end of compulsory education;
- the minimum conditions for issuing diplomas;
- the pension regulations for staff in the education sector.
These areas remain reserved to the federal parliament.
The role of the government of the German-speaking Community
With the exception of the three aspects mentioned above, education in Belgium is the responsibility of the communities.
The government of the DG consists of four ministers of whom one (the Education Minister) is responsible for education and scientific research and another for extra-curricular education. The Education Minister and the Ministry of the German-speaking Community must fulfil a double role in the area of education:
- on the one hand the Education Minister (on behalf of the government) is the governing body of the community schools (of the previous state schools) that are integrated into the educational network of the community education system (GUW). In this capacity, he lays down structures, syllabi and methods, decides on larger infrastructure measures and finances the GUW schools; in cooperation with school heads, he takes all actions for improving the operation of the school;
- on the other hand the Minister and the Ministry as the supervisory authority are responsible for control of the application of all statutory provisions and regulations, not only in their own community schools but also in the schools of other school governing bodies. He approves the school structures and syllabi of the free and officially subsidies schools (FSUW and OSUW) and subsidises them to a large extent under criteria laid down by law.
The Ministry of the German-speaking Community
As in every central administration, the main task of the Ministry lies in supporting its decision making and executing the decisions of the government. The Ministry circulates letters regarding the decrees and regulations issued by the legislative and executive organs of the German-speaking Community. The circulars from the Teaching and Training department in the Ministry are sent to all persons who administer the structures of the education system (in the Ministry, in the schools), as well as all other people concerned (school governing bodies, parents' associations, unions etc.). Apart from that, the Ministry is responsible for important administrative and inspection tasks.
Administration and control at local and/or institutional level
By local level we mean the nine municipalities of the German-speaking Community and by institutional level we mean the individual schools. The decree of 31 August 1998 on the task assigned to the school governing bodies and school staff as well as on the general teaching and organisational provisions for mainstream schools is considered as the legal basis.
The municipal administrations are exclusively responsible for the schools, the governing bodies of which are the municipalities, just like any other governing body (i.e. the German-speaking Community or a free, private governing body) can only be responsible for its own schools at local level. As the governing body, the municipality can decide what syllabi it would like to introduce for use in its schools and what methods should be applied. It recruits and appoints the staff of the municipal schools under the rules laid down by the Parliament of the DG in staff regulations (decree of 29 March 2004), which are equally binding on all municipalities and municipal schools. It decides on the required infrastructure measures and sets the budget each year that the municipal schools have available for the procurement of teaching aids.
Administration and control at institutional level
The assistance of the various persons involved in the education system is provided by the Educational Council, the School Council and the Parents' Association.
All participants, i.e. the pupils and parents, the management, teaching, educational support and administration staff as well as the paramedic and social-psychological staff acquire rights and obligations that they exercise within the bodies provided.