In the French Community of Belgium, the Office of Birth and Childhood (ONE) is responsible for organising care for children aged three and under. There are various types of childcare facilities, but their number is limited. Therefore, one should take the time to search for the right facility. In practice, registering a future child can be done beginning with the fourth month of pregnancy.
The cost of childcare varies based on the type of facility but all costs are tax deductible. Thus a childcare facility subsidised by ONE offers prices proportional to the parents’ income, whereas other facilities set their own prices. More information on childcare facilities in the French Community of Belgium can be found at the ONE website.
The University of Louvain has two nurseries. Both are located in Louvain-la-Neuve:
- Pomme d’happy welcomes around 24 infants.
- Le P'tit Matelot (tel: 00 32 (0) 10 47 88 67)receives children if something unexpected comes up, if someone is needed to watch over a child for a few hours, or if childcare is required on a regular basis or for extended periods of time.
Compulsory education, which applies from the age of six to 18, is free in Belgium. The choice of institution is left to the parents. There is a wide range of secondary schools: collèges, instituts, lycées, athénées, etc.
Education is organised based on the following schema:
- Fundamental education: preschool begins at age 2½ and continues for three years; elementary school begins at age six and continues for six years.
- Secondary education: six years split into three two-year cycles.
There are two networks of subsidised education: the official network (state schools) and the open network (religiously or non-religiously affiliated schools). The cost of attendance is limited to school expenses such as books, photocopies and regular outings. For details (and a list of the region’s schools), go to www.enseignement.be.
A third network is private – not subsidised by the government – and therefore requires the payment of school fees. For European schools, visit the Schola Europaea website. A list of international schools in Belgium can be found at the website of the Educational Collaborative for International Schools (ECIS).
Louvain-la-Neuve hosts numerous primary and secondary schools in the two subsidised networks. These schools and their contact information are available at the official website of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, and in the ‘Guide des commerces et services de Louvain-la-Neuve’ available both at the Student Support Service (‘Point de repère’) and at the Inforville counter near the train station ticket windows.
For other communes, consult their websites for school lists.