Primary education

As from September 2020, children in the Flemish-language region will be required to attend school starting from the age of 5. Following one compulsory year of pre-school education, primary school lasts another 6 years.

    Secondary education

    In the Flemish-language region, secondary education is known as secundair onderwijs or middelbaar onderwijs. Students conclude secondary education with a Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs. This diploma grants admission to all forms of higher education in the Flemish-language region.

    To obtain it, students must sit exams in 1 of 4 specialisations, also known as onderwijsvormen:

    These specialisations are equivalent to the following types of education:

    • general secondary education (ASO);
    • general and vocational secondary education (KSO/TSO);
    • vocational secondary education (BSO).

    Algemeen Secundair Onderwijs (ASO)

    The specialisation Algemeen Secundair Onderwijs (ASO) consists of general secondary education.

    • Duration: 6 years.
    • Content: general education subjects.
    • Function of the diploma: access to higher education.
    • Diploma: Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs, specialisation Algemeen Secundair Onderwijs (ASO).

    We compare the Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs with the specialisation Algemeen Secundair Onderwijs (ASO) to a VWO diploma.

    Kunst Secundair Onderwijs (KSO)

    The specialisation Kunstsecundair Onderwijs (KSO) consist of general and vocational secondary education.

    • Duration: 6 years.
    • Content: general education and arts subjects. Generally, the arts subjects only constitute a small percentage of the total subject cluster.
    • Function of the diploma: access to higher education.
    • Diploma: Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs, specialisation Kunst Secundair Onderwijs (KSO).

    We compare the Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs with the specialisation Kunst Secundair Onderwijs (KSO) to a VWO diploma, or sometimes to a HAVO diploma with vocational subjects.

    Please note: we compare the KSO diploma to a VWO diploma as the percentage of general education subjects is usually high. However, for some subject clusters with a high percentage of vocational subjects, we compare the KSO diploma to a HAVO diploma with vocational subjects.

    Technisch Secundair Onderwijs (TSO)

    The specialisation Technisch Secundair Onderwijs (TSO) consist of general and vocational secondary education.

    • Duration: 6 years.
    • Content: general education and practical subjects (technical/economic/administrative). Generally, the practical subjects only constitute a small percentage of the total subject cluster.
    • Function of the diploma: access to higher education.
    • Diploma: Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs, specialisation Technisch Secundair Onderwijs (TSO).

    We compare the Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs with the specialisation Technisch Secundair Onderwijs (TSO) to a VWO diploma, or sometimes to a HAVO diploma with vocational subjects.

    Please note: we compare the TSO diploma to a VWO diploma as the percentage of general education subjects is usually high. However, for some subject clusters with a high percentage of vocational subjects, we compare the KSO diploma to a HAVO diploma with vocational subjects.

    Beroepssecundair Onderwijs (BSO)

    The specialisation Beroepssecundair Onderwijs (BSO) consists of vocational secondary education.

    • Duration: 7 years.
    • Content: vocational, practical education, with work placements and practical education sometimes taking up more than half of the curriculum.
    • Function of the diploma: access to higher education.
    • Diploma: Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs, specialisation Beroepssecundair Onderwijs (BSO).

    After 6 years of education in the BSO specialisation, students receive a certificate. Only after completing the 7th year pupils obtain the Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs.

    We compare the Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs with the specialisation Beroepssecundair Onderwijs (BSO) to an MBO diploma level 4.

    Please note: you can only use this comparison if you want to check whether a diploma can give access to Dutch higher education. If you want to know what the level of this diploma is because you are looking for work, please contact IDW. The diploma also can be compared to another MBO level.

    More secondary education specialisations

    There are also different specialisations within ASO, KSO, TSO and BSO. More information about specialisations in secondary education are available on the website of the Flemish government (in Dutch only).