Skip to main content
European Commission logo


EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Early childhood and school education funding

Belgium - Flemish Community

3.Funding in education

3.1Early childhood and school education funding

Last update: 27 November 2023
  • The information on childcare included in this chapter reflects the situation in April 2014. Once the most recent data are available, the information will be updated. 


Funding childcare

Recognised childcare centres & Childminding Services

  • The work of the recognised childcare centres & Childminding Services is partly funded from the grant from the Flemish government to the agency Child and Family and partly out of the income from families’ financial contributions.
  • Families pay the recognised childcare centres and childminding services a contribution that is related to their income.
  • The income from the families’ financial contribution is offset against the subsidies. This means that taking in children from low-income families does not have any adverse effect on the childcare facility’s operating budget.

IBO Initiatives for Out-of-School Care

  • Initiatives for out-of-school care are subsidised by various bodies. Staff costs for carers are partly subsidised by the Flemish Subsidy Agency for Work and Social Economy. The remainder and the labour costs for the coordinator and the running costs are subsidised by the Fund for Collective Equipment and Services (FCUD) or by Child and Family. Some initiatives can receive subsidies from both Child and Family and from the FCUD. Since 2010, extra funds have been made available for the initiatives for out-of-school care under the Generation Pact. (The Generation Pact aims to reinforce out-of-school care by ensuring both additional provision and additional employment. The Generation Pact stipulates that poorly educated young people (under 30 and preferably of non-Belgian origin) who are seeking a job can receive training and then get a job in out-of-school childcare.)
  • The families’ financial contribution is not related to income, although the minimum and maximum contributions are determined in the regulations.
  • The initiatives for out-of-school care are free to decide how to use the income from the families’ financial contributions.

Local community-oriented childcare services

  • Local community-oriented childcare services receive funding from various bodies. Child and Family provides a fixed subsidy per childcare place and pays part of the wages of the employees within the target group. To meet their staffing needs and cover the labour cost of target-group workers they can call on Flemish/Brussels' and federal resources from Work and Social Economy.
  • For baby or toddler care, the parent pays a fee that is regulated by law and takes account of income. For care for school-age children, the parent pays a fee that lies within certain limits and that is determined in the regulations.
  • Income of local pre-primary services that derives from families' financial contributions is offset against the subsidies. This means that takin in children from low-incomes families does not have any adverse effect on the childcare facility's operating budget. The local out-of-school services are free to decide how to spend the income from the families' financial contributions.

Independent childcare centres, independant out-of-school care services and self-employed childminders

  • Independent childcare can receive limited financial support from Child and Family, subject to compliance with a number of conditions.
  • On 16 February 2009, the Flemish government introduced the income-related system for independent childcare centres and self-employed childminders. This means that for these independent childcare facilities too, families pay a financial contribution according to their income (only applicable to children receiving pre-primary care). The government makes up the difference between the family’s contribution, calculated on the basis of income, and the guaranteed daily fee.
  • For the independent childcare centres and self-employed childminders that work with the income-related system and for independent out-of-school care facilities, the financial contribution from families is the main source of income.

Both recognised and independent care facilities that take children with specific care needs can obtain additional financial support from Child and Family.

Both recognised and independent care facilities that offer flexible care or occasional care have received extra subsidies from the Flemish government since 2007.

Funding of operational budget in elementary and secondary education

The distribution of the resources across the educational networks has featured on the political agenda for decades. Partly also due to a favourable economic climate - making more operational resources available for education - the decree of 4 July 2008 took shape. It introduced a new financing model which funds all schools in the same way with due regard for two objective differences, i.e. the guarantee of freedom of choice and the onus on all schools organised by public authorities to offer various philosophy-of-life courses.

The financing model applies to the division of the operation resources, not the means for personnel nor for investments in infrastructure.

The keynote is 4 sub-budgets: one for mainstream Elementary education, one for special elementary education, one for mainstream secondary education and one for special secondary education.

Under the new financing system, part of the operational resources education budget will first of all be used to fund the objective differences between the schools. Subsequently, another part will be distributed on the basis of social pupil characteristics. However, these will not be used to distribute the special-education operational resources. The remaining part - which constitutes the lion part of the funding - are distributed according to school and programme characteristics.

  • Pre-set budget for several philosophy-of-life courses

A budget of 4.5 % is deducted for the objective difference philosophy-of-life courses (this percentage is calculated on the basis of the pupils who qualify for this difference and not on the overall budget): provided the school board offers the choice between classes in one of the official religions and non-confessional ethics;

  • Pre-set budget for the objective difference neutrality

A budget of 3 % is deducted for GO! (and calculated on the number of GO! pupils), as only GO! can be forced to organise this form of education when the freedom-of-choice rule is invoked. An alternative is to offer free pupil transport to the nearest community school.

  • Pre-set budget for operating resources on the basis of pupil characteristics (not for special education). Part of the budget is subsequently distributed on the basis of 4 socio-economic indicators that have a considerable impact on the pupils' school careers: the mother's level of education, whether the pupil qualifies for a school allowance, the language spoken at home & the living environment of the pupil.
    • In elementary education that share amounts to 14% until and including the budgetary year 2011. Starting from the budgetary year 2012 (= operational resources schoolyear 2011 - 2012) it increases with 0.1875% per year up until 2020 when it will amount for 15,5%.
    • In secondary education the 2008-2009 share amounted to 10% and it is gradually increased to 11% in 2019.
    • The part of the budget earmarked for distribution on the basis of pupil characteristics is divided out across the four pupil indicators in elementary education (25% each), and in secondary education in the proportions 30% - 30% - 30% - 10%. The amount per indicator is calculated by dividing the budget by the number of pupils meeting the indicator, with 4 different lump sums as a result.
  • Basic financing. The remaining largest part of the operational resources (about 80%) is distributed amongst the schools on the basis of school characteristics such as level, type, branch of education and branch of study and according to level of education. So the place in the educational system generates a number of points which will be used in the distribution of resources. Henceforth, educational networks no longer have any impact. In special elementary education, due consideration is also given to GON pupils to calculate the integration allowance.

Local authorities who used to spend considerable additional funds on their own educational network can now develop a complementary education policy for all the pupils of all the networks within their territory (see Administration and governance at local and/or institutional level

The new financing system is currently being evaluated. The evaluation report is to be expected by the beginning of 2015.

Funding personnel

From 1 September 2012, a new staff allocation system will be used in mainstream elementary education (under the staff allocation decree of 6 July 2012 amending the elementary education decree of 25 February 1997). This new staff allocation system has two main goals: to ensure equality for nursery and primary education, and to allocate a portion of staffing resources on the basis of pupil characteristics instead of school characteristics. Moreover, the existing categories of teaching periods will be integrated: mainstream teaching periods, equal educational opportunities (GOK) and GOK+ teaching periods, teaching periods for schools from the municipalities on the (wider) Brussels periphery and the linguistic border, physical education periods and introductory teaching periods.(See 2.7-2.1 for more details.)

To create this new staff allocation system, an additional 52.7 million euros is being invested in elementary education. This additional investment will mainly benefit nursery education, where staffing levels are increasing by 8.8%. However, elementary education will also benefit, with a 1.7% increase.

Funding of the Alternance Training System

The operational resources for part-time education in the CPE (Centres for Part-time Vocational Secondary Education) are financed in accordance with the compulsory-education financing model

Unlike funding for the CPEs, funding for the CPTs (centres for part-time training) is not kept separate for staff and for operational activities. The allocated budget thus has to cover both the staff and operating costs. For personal development pathways, from school year 2011-2012 there is structural subsidisation on the basis of the number of established participant hours. The staff of the CPT are recruited under contract and fall within the scope of Joint Committee 329. The scheme governing the legal position of education is not applicable. This is also why staff pay is supplemented within an overall budget that also covers operating costs.

The subsidisation of SYNTRA, which is responsible for apprenticeships, is dealt with under Continuing Education [see 3.3.1]. 

Funding of school infrasturcture and school-building

Funding for infrastructure work is allocated by the Flemish government to the Go! Council and AGIOn.

For educational institutions, centres for pupil guidance and boarding schools within the Flemish Community's education system (GO!), the Go! council and managing director are responsible for the allocation of funds for investments and large-scale infrastructure work. [see].

For subsidised educational institutions, centres for pupil guidance, boarding schools and university colleges,AGIOn, the Agency for Infrastructure in Education, has been established.

To subsidise the Flemish elementary and secondary-school infrastructure in the Brussels-Capital Region, AGIOn cancount on an extra budget from the Flemish Community Commission.

In 2008, AGIOn organised an extensive school building survey involving more than 3600 locations, about the quality of the school buildings and the extent to which they meet the new social and pedagogical challenges of the 21st century. These data were gathered in the Schoolgebouwenmonitor 2008.

Catching up on school construction with a new financing system

On 7 July 2006 the Flemish Parliament approved a decree "catching up on school construction". Over the past decades the need for investments in school buildings had increased so significantly (1.9 billion euro, of which approximately 1.4 billion euro must come from Flemish-Government subsidies), that it could no longer be relieved by the regular budgets (€ 150 million per year). Therefore, an additional alternative funding method, the DBFM formula (design, build, finance and maintain), was adopted. A private company selected by the government designs, builds, finances and maintains the building projects. This also means that every project will be completed within a certain term, at a pre-set price. Major repairs also have to be carried out by this company. The company shall invest 1 billion euro and shall ensure that all selected projects are developed quickly. In return, it will get a 30-year availability fee from the schools, although the latter will become the immediate owners. The fee will be subsidised or financed by AGIOn (Flemish Agency for Infrastructure in Education), pursuant to the rules which apply today in relation to the subsidising or financing of school buildings, i.e. to the tune of 100%, 70% or 60%. The company can only consist of financial partners. All building projects will be put out to tender before any building will commence. The decree also specifies the company-selection procedure. In 2009, the private financier was selected (Fortis Bank - Fortis Real Estate). The government also set up NV School Invest (a subsidiary of AGIOn and the Participatiemaatschappij Vlaanderen) for the preparation of the construction files. The projects will be selected by the decretal ad hoc commission, composed of representatives from the networks, the Flemish Government Architect and the administration, and is chaired by the former director-general of the higher-education administration. The projects were selected on the basis of criteria specified by the Flemish Government. From the 322 project applications, 211 were selected, including 29 projects which can serve as models for "the school of the future" and 7 passive schools.

The Vlaamse Bouwmeester (Flemish Government Architect) will, together with the company and the relevant school board assess the drafts. For normal projects the Government Architect shall provide mandatory advice, for model projects the three parties shall decide unanimously. So, here the Government Architect has co-decision powers. In support a manual and a website including a.o. fine school examples (from Flanders and Europe) were developed;

Between 2010 and 2016, the company 'DBFM Scholen van Morgen' will design, finance and build around 200 school buildings throughout Flanders, spread across all networks and with a total project value of 1.5 billion euros.

Financial autonomy and control

For Childcare see 4.1 Conditions for recognition and subsidies

The rules and procedures in relation to financial management imposed on school boards vary greatly between the different educational networks.

In community education the schools groups and the Board assume the task of organising bodies. The Board will continue to set the rules on the allocation of resources among school groups. The school groups themselves are responsible for the autonomous financial and material management of the schools within their school group. A Board of Accountants, appointed by the Flemish Government, supervises the financial policy of the school groups. This Board of Accountants is also charged with financial supervision on the Board of Community Education. The Board of Accountants consists of 5 members appointed for a term of 4 years.

In Subsidized Official Education the municipalities and provinces are responsible for the financial management of the schools. The budget has to be approved at a higher level - by the Permanent Deputation (the provincial authorities) as regards municipal budgets and by the Flemish Government as regards provincial budgets. Financial decisions at a lower level can be suspended at a higher level if the legislation is not complied with.

The school boards of Subsidized Private Education have greater autonomy. However, they must comply with the accounting rules of the new non-profit organisation-legislation and all relevant controls.

Subsidised educational institutions, boarding schools and pupil guidance centres which meet the criteria for rationalisation and programming plans, can appeal to the government for investments.

Decree of 4 July 2008 concerning the operational budgets in secondary education and amending the Decree on elementary education of 25 February 1997 concerning operational budgets.

Supervision of the use of operational funds is carried out by the audit service of the Agency for Educational Services.

Fees within Public Education

Fees in Childcare

In the recognised childcare centres, childminding services and local community-oriented pre-primary childcare services recognised and subsidised by Child & Family, families pay a financial contribution according to their income. Families with more than one dependent child or with twins or multiples receive a discount.

In the initiatives for out-of-school care (IBO) and the local community-oriented out-of-school childcare services, families’ financial contribution is not income-related, although minimum and maximum contributions are stipulated in the regulations. A discount is given where more than one child attends a facility.

Families, who have their children minded in an independent childcare centre and by self-employed childminders working with the income-related parent contribution scheme (IKG), pay an income-related fee. In all other independent childcare centres and with self-employed child minders, the childcare facility itself sets the price to be paid by the parents. The income-related system is only applicable to children of pre-primary age who are looked after at the independent childcare centres or by self-employed childminders working with IKG. The government makes up the difference between the family’s contribution, calculated on the basis of income, and the guaranteed daily fee (30.42 euros in independent childcare centres and 18.27 euros for self-employed childminders (amounts since October 2012)).

In independent out-of-school care services, the parents pay a contribution that is set by the service itself. This is also the case in independent childcare centres and with self-employed childminders not working with the income-related system.

School costs in compulsory education

Free access to compulsory education is guaranteed under the Constitution (art. 24 § 3). Education Decree XIII of 13 July 2001 fleshed this matter out even further: schools may not seek any direct or indirect registration fees either in full-time secondary education or in part-time vocational secondary education. Indirect registration fees are costs the school boards or other organisations impose at the start or in the course of the school year, which are so high that they may form a genuine impediment to registration. Parents and adult pupils may only be charged for certain educational activities and teaching materials, provided:

  • the school board has drawn up a list of contributions (= the contributions arrangement) following consultation at school-council level; this list must also feature the deviations that apply for less well-off families;
  • the parties concerned have been informed in writing of this contributions arrangement by the start of the school year at the latest. It is obligatory to enclose the list of contributions in the school regulation.

Any costs which are passed on for services such as meals, drinks, supervision must always be in proportion to the services rendered.

For elementary education a maximum charge applies, and there is also an official list of materials which are indispensable to attain the final objectives or pursue the developmental objectives has been published, which means that schools have to provide children with these materials (such as copybooks, folders, school diaries, school books) free of charge.

A 'strict' maximum charge applies for all other expenses in elementary education (journals used in class, plays, sport activities, one-day out-of-school activities...). For the school year 2014-2014, this is 25 euro per child for 2-3-year-olds, 35 euro for 4-year-olds, 40 euro for 5-year-olds and children of compulsory school age and 70 euro per pupil in primary education.

For trips of more than one day (extramural activities) for the school year 2014-2015, a less stringent maximum charge applies of 410 euro per pupil throughout the child's entire primary-school career. Schools have considerable autonomy with regard to extramural activities. However, these must be consistent with the school's pedagogical project, be supported by the school's entire community of parents and teachers, and must be announced in good time to the parents, who are free to decide whether their child will participate in the extramural activity lasting a complete day or more. The activities must also be the subject both of thorough preparation and of subsequent evaluation.

See Circular BaO/2007/05 on Cost management in primary education & Circular BaO/2001/13 on Extramural activities.

The effect of the introduction in 2008 of the maximum charge for elementary education was investigated by the Study and School Career Centre, whose report was published in 2011.

In secondary education there is no maximum charge. Secondary schools strive for maximum cost containment. This entails that schools and school boards consciously manage the school costs. These must at all time be accountable, demonstrable and effective.

For an overview of the regulations in this area, see: WeTwijs: kosten(beheersing)

School costs in Centres for Adult Education and Centres for Adult Basic Education

The centres may only charge those taking courses for necessary course material, at cost price. These costs must be estimated and communicated to the participant at the time of registration.

Financial support for learners' families

Financial support for childcare

On 16 February 2009, the Flemish Government introduced the system of income-related parent contributions within the independent childcare sector. See 3.1-3, 'Fees in Childcare'. 

School allowances

The Decree of 8 June 2007 now governs study financing in all of education of the Flemish Community. It operates on the basis of a system of school allowances for nursery and compulsory education and on the basis of a system of study allowances for higher education, based on the same financial admission criteria that apply to all levels of education.

The assessment of entitlement to study financing now takes place on the basis of a single family dossier that makes it possible to bundle together applications and ensure that all children from the same family are treated equally; this has led to a considerable reduction in paperwork for citizens. Since school year 2008-2009, pupils in the alternance training system [see 6.4] have also been eligible for a school allowance. In nursery and obligatory education, entitlement to a school allowance is also coupled to strict attendance 


The nationality and financial conditions for eligibility for a financial contribution are now the same for all levels. Only the pedagogical conditions still differ per educational level. To be eligible for an allowance, the following conditions must be simultaneously satisfied:

  • Pupils or students should be of Belgian nationality, although under specific conditions foreign pupils may also be eligible.
  • The pupil must be enrolled in an educational institution recognised, funded or subsidised by the Flemish Community for mainstream or special elementary education, for full-time mainstream or special secondary education, or for part-time secondary education, or in an institution recognised by the Flemish government for training programmes recognised as meeting the compulsory education requirement. Students in higher education must be enrolled with a degree contract to take an accredited or recognised programme that is organised by a higher education institution officially registered by the Flemish Community.
  • The school allowance for preschoolers and pupils in primary and secondary education is also dependent on a required minimum attendance at school.
    • Infants have to attent pre-primary school for a minimum number of days. The number of days of compulsory attrendance increases with age:
      • < 3 years of age on 31/12: 100 half days at school
      • 3 years of age on 31/12: 150 half days at school
      • 4 years of age on 31/12: 185 half days at school
      • 5 years of age on 31/12: 220 half days at school
      • 6 or 7 years of age on 31/12: max. 29 half days absent for no legitimate reason
    • In primary education, pupils may not have been illegitimately absent from school for more than 29 half school days, not even during the previous school year. Even if they were not yet subjected to compulsory education during that previous school year they must have been present for a minimum of 220 half school days.
    • In full-time secondary education and in part-time compulsory education, pupils are not permitted to be absent without a valid reason for more than 29 half school days (this also applies to training-programme classes and/or on-the-job learning), not even during the previous school year.
    • To be eligible for a school allowance for the school year in question, the minimum attendance condition must not only be satisfied during that school year itself, but also during the previous school year. Pupils are entitled to a school allowance for full-time secondary and part-time compulsory education up to and including the school year in which the recipient turns 22 years of age. No age limits apply to pupils following special secondary education or the course of study 'nursing' within Higher Vocational Education.
  • In terms of financial conditions, various parameters are taken into account.
    • The 'family unit', where various categories are distinguished: e.g. principal place of residence with one or both parents; with another natural person entrusted with the pupil's care; married; independent; living alone, etc.
    • The reference income of the 'family unit' the pupil/student belongs to.
    • The rateable value of the 'family unit' the pupil/student belongs to.
    • The composition of the 'family unit' (number of dependent persons, number of students, number of disabled persons).

The Flemish Ministry of Education and Training has a separate website on school and study allowances with full details on this subject.

In 2010-2011, 50,957 school allowances were allocated in nursery education (average €85.12); 99,734 in primary education (average €120.45); 122,870 in secondary education (average €405.36); and 44,028 in higher education (average €1,651.15); figures reflect known position on 30/09/2011.

Financial support for Apprenticeship course participants

Apprentices are entitled to an apprentice allowance, paid for by the company they follow training in. This allowance is linked to their age and their professional experience. Pupils in possession of a recognised apprenticeship contract are placed on the same footing as school-going pupils. This means that they continue to qualify for child benefit up and until the age of 25. However, from 1 September of the year in which the pupil turns 18 years of age, the apprentice allowance may not exceed the child-benefit limit.

The company must also contribute to the pupil's home-work travel expenses. This contribution usually fluctuates around 75% of the actual fare price. Pupils can also receive some compensation for the travel expenses they incur for attending vocationally-oriented training courses. The company must also provide the necessary work and protective clothing.

As of school year 2008-2009, also pupils in the apprenticeship, can qualify for a school allowance up and until the time they turn 22.

Pupils who have entered into an apprenticeship contract before the end of part-time compulsory education may be granted a starting bonus (on condition that they successfully completed their training year) and the entrepreneur-trainer who trained them may qualify for an apprenticeship bonus (on condition that the apprenticeship contract was concluded for a minimum of 3 months).

Pupil transport

If mainstream Elementary education pupils cannot find an official or subsidised private school that guarantees them a freedom of choice within a radius of 4 km of their home, the Community is obliged to either include this type of school in its funding or subvention regulations or to contribute to the cost of transporting the pupils in question to one of these schools. For eligible pupils, Community Education even organises free pupil transport and, by doing so, guarantees that pupils' freedom of choice is safeguarded.


General circular letter on pupil transport NO/2008/02.

Financial support for families of pupils with Special Educational Needs

The allowance system operated within mainstream education also applies across special education. Pupils/students in secondary and tertiary education receive financial support through the regular study allowance system.

Children attending special education can avail of bus or taxi transport which is organised and funded by the government. (see 12.2.2).

Parents receive various types of extra financial contributions:

  • The Family Allowance Fund pays a higher child benefit, in function of the degree of the disability calculated on the basis of the OBSI, the Official Belgian Disability Scale. This scale is based on 3 cornerstones: the degree of the child‚Äôs incapacity, the child‚Äôs activity and participation potential and the burden on the family;
  • The Federal Public Service, FPS, Finance also grants tax relief, depending on the family's income.

In Adult Education, disabled pupils are exempt from registration fees.

Other Financial provisions

Families receive different kinds of financial support to help them raise their children.

  • Parents receive child benefit. Starting one month after the birth, a monthly child benefit is paid for the previous month for every dependent child belonging to that family. These benefits are a basic amount, supplemented by an allowance per age group. The basic amount increases gradually from the first to the third child. Self-employed people receive a lower amount than salaried people. Child benefit is paid for all dependent children up to the age of 18. 18 to 25-year-olds can also qualify for child benefit provided they are still dependent, are following education and/or do not have their own income (above a certain limit). More information: or (National Office for Family Benefits for Salaried Persons) and Institute for the Social Security of the Self-employed).
  • Moreover, tax relief is available for dependent children.
  • Parents who use the formal childcare network for children up to the age of 12 can deduct these costs from their taxes provided the childcare facility they are sending their children to has a supervision certificate (attest van toezicht), issued by Child and Family, and is organised by the school or by an initiative that is recognised, supervised or subsidised by a local administration or a public Flemish Community authority.

Financial support for learners

Scolarships, allowances and loans

Aside from seeking financial support from the government, pupils/students may also apply to various institutions for grants, allowances and loans. The Study Allowance Fund of the non-profit Family Association (Gezinsbond vzw) grants study loans to pupils from large families (3 children or more). The money provided must be used to finance the cost of study within Dutch-speaking secondary and higher education with full curriculum

Mobility grants for pupils are dealt with under mobility and internationalisation [see 13].

Private education

Educational initiatives which are neither subsidised nor officially recognised are extremely few in number. The Department of Education does not keep any data about them.

Subsidised and recognised independent education is dealt with together with public educat<span id="fck_dom_range_temp_1330347756749_195" />ion.