Belgium has one of the most complex and successful education systems in the world. Between 2008 and 2012, 98.9 percent of male children and 99.2 percent of female children were enrolled in primary school. These statistics show that mandatory primary school is enforced and taken seriously in Belgium.
Compulsory education lasts 12 years, similar to the United States, and goes from age six to age 17. Belgium also has equal primary and secondary education enrollment rates for both boys and girls, showing equal access to education for both. What is even more impressive is that since 2007, at least 20 percent more women than men have enrolled in higher education.
Education in Belgium is monitored by a number of comprehensive policies. In 2002, the Decree on Equal Educational Opportunities created local consultation platforms to ensure fair school admission and enrollment processes. In March of 2014, the “M Decree” was passed, which is meant to promote the inclusion of students with special education needs in mainstream schools. The Decree indicates that schools may only refer students to “special education” if they can justify having tried all possible methods to allow them to follow mainstream education programs.
This system is very thorough and accounts not only for what happens while children are in school but also works to make sure they can integrate effectively into the labor market. It is this system that improves not only education and literacy rates, but economic success, crime rates and domestic stability.
Education in Belgium is setting an incredible example for the rest of the world. While it is a very rich country, its model can still be used to improve education in other, less financially stable, countries. It continues to improve further, as seen with its 2014-19 plans to implement measures to reduce dropout rates, and will hopefully help lead education systems in developing countries to similar heights.
– Liyanga De Silva