Belgium is a federal state with communities and regions. Education is a community matter: the Flemish Community is responsible for the education and training policy on the Flemish territory including education in Dutch in Brussels.
The Flemish education system is based on the constitutionally anchored principle of freedom of education (art. 24 of the Constitution). Any (legal) person can, in addition to the Government, organize education. The Government is additionally charged with arranging non-denominational education.
There are three educational networks in Flanders, each with various umbrella organizations:
- The public education system, covering community education, municipal education and provincial education (all set up by the Government);
- Free education, including the Katholiek Onderwijs Vlaanderen [Flanders Catholic Education] umbrella organization (the largest group) and the consultation platform Overleg Kleine Onderwijsverstrekkers [Small Education Providers Advisory] (OKO).
Education policy in Flanders is defined within the Ministry of Education and Training. That is made up of the Department of Education and Training responsible for policy preparation and evaluation and three agencies: the Agency for Educational Services (AGODI), the Agency for Higher Education, Adult Education, Qualifications and Study Grants (AHOVOKS) and the Agency for Infrastructure in Education (AGION). The Ministry is responsible for all stages in the education and training system with the exception of childcare, family allowance and science policy.