Formal education takes place in education and training institutions and leads to the award of recognised diplomas and qualifications. The whole of the formal education sector is organised, grant-aided or simply recognised by the French Community. Access to compulsory education (primary and secondary) is free of charge, whereas, with some exceptions, students in higher education are required to pay registration fees. Under certain conditions, pupils in secondary education and higher education receive grants or study loans allocated by the French Community.
Non-formal education takes place outside the main education structures, and usually does not lead to official certificates being obtained. Non-formal education may be acquired through professional experience or may take place in a training centre. It may be provided by established organisations or services which complement the formal systems (continuing vocational training, art, music or sports classes or private lessons in preparation for examinations, etc.), or may be given in connection with activities, organisations or groups in civil society (youth associations, trade unions, the business sector or political parties). Adult vocational training falls within the competence of the Regions and is free of charge. The other forms of training open to adults are subject to varying financial arrangements: for instance, distance learning is organised by a service of the Ministry of the French Community, and is subject to a very modest registration fee; numerous independent bodies benefit from grants from the French Community as continuing education providers.
Informal education is the natural corollary of daily life. Unlike formal and non-formal education, it is not necessarily intentional, and therefore cannot be recognised, even by the individuals concerned, as boosting their knowledge and skills.
To meet their expenses, childcare facilities may, in certain cases, benefit from subsidies issued by the Office for Birth and Childhood (ONE) (a body overseen by the French Community) or other subsidy-providers; they also receive a financial contribution from the parents.