Primary education

As from September 2020, children in the French-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

Secondary education (enseignement secondaire) lasts 6 years. The exception is vocational secondary education which lasts 7 years. Students conclude secondary education with a Certificat d’enseignement secondaire supérieur. This diploma grants access to all forms of higher education in the French-language region of Belgium.

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

Enseignement général

The specialisation enseignement général consists of general secondary education.

  • Duration: 6 years.
  • Content: general education subjects.
  • Function of the diploma: access to higher education.
  • Diploma: Certificat d’enseignement secondaire supérieur, specialisation enseignement général.

We compare the Certificat d’enseignement secondaire supérieur, specialisation enseignement général to a VWO diploma.

Enseignement artistique

The specialisation enseignement artistique consists of general and vocational secondary education.

  • Duration: 6 years.
  • Content: general education and arts subjects (enseignement artistique). Usually, the practical subjects only constitute a small percentage of the total subject cluster.
  • Function of the diploma: access to higher education.
  • Diploma: Certificat d’enseignement secondaire supérieur, richting enseignement artistique.

We compare the Certificat d’enseignement secondaire supérieur with the specialisation enseignement artistique to a VWO diploma, or sometimes to a HAVO diploma with vocational subjects.

Please note: we compare the enseignement artistique 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 enseignement artistique diploma to a HAVO diploma with vocational subjects.

Enseignement technique

The specialisation enseignement technique consists of general and vocational secondary education.

  • Duration: 6 years.
  • Content: general education and practical subjects (technical/economic/administrative, enseignement technique). Usually, the practical subjects only constitute a small percentage of the total subject cluster.
  • Function of the diploma: access to higher education.
  • Diploma: Certificat d’enseignement secondaire supérieur, richting enseignement technique.

We compare the Certificat d’enseignement secondaire supérieur with the specialisation enseignement technique to a VWO diploma, or sometimes to a HAVO diploma with vocational subjects.

Please note: we compare the enseignement technique 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 enseignement technique diploma to a HAVO diploma with vocational subjects.

Enseignement professionnel

The enseignement professionnel specialisation (vocational education and training) consists of vocationally-oriented 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: Certificat d’enseignement secondaire supérieur, specialisation enseignement professionel.

We compare the Certificat d’enseignement secondaire supérieur with the specialisation enseignement professionel 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.

Diplôme d'Aptitude à Accéder à l'Enseignement Supérieur

The Certificat d’enseignement secondaire supérieur grants access to all forms of higher education in the French-language region. However, it is also possible to gain access to higher education by sitting a separate state examination before a government committee of the French Community (jury de la Communauté française). If you pass this examination, you are awarded the Diplôme d'Aptitude à Accéder à l'Enseignement Supérieur.