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Preprimary & Primary Education

Preprimary or preschool education (Enseignement préscolaire/Voorschool onderwijs) is separate and not compulsory and is provided free of charge at three levels, covering the age groups of two and a half to four years old, four to five years old, and five to six years old. Parents may have to provide assistance in the form of meals, transportation, and activities outside the classroom. More than 90 percent of Belgian children are enrolled in the first level. The number of pupils in preprimary education runs at roughly more than 120,000 for ages three, four, and five. At age five, the number is only half as much, since children who are six years old before September enter primary school. Primary education comprises six years of instruction, divided in three cycles of two years each. The school week has 28 periods of instruction, consisting of 50 minutes each. With five days of instruction per week and 182 school days per year, annual instruction is 849 hours.

Upon satisfactory completion of the sixth grade, pupils receive a Certificate of Primary Education, which guarantees acceptance into secondary education. Primary schools are generally coeducational, with the exception of some denominational private schools. Subjects taught include the mother tongue, a second language, history, mathematics, music, physical education, science, social education, artistic activities, and geography. While compulsory subjects are determined by the community governments, they are very similar. For children 10 years of age in the third cycle of primary education, the number of hours of compulsory subjects totals 848-850 hours for the school year, distributed in the three communities. The time table for the German community closely emulates that of the French community, with the main difference in its 90 hours of compulsory foreign language instruction instead of a flexible time table, which is explained by the fact that the German speaking part of Belgium lies within Wallonia and familiarity with French is emphasized as early as preschool.

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Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceBelgium - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education