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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Lifelong learning strategy

Belgium - French Community

2.Organisation and governance

2.2Lifelong learning strategy

Last update: 27 November 2023

Three types of education can be distinguished: formal education, informal education and non-formal education:

  • Formal education takes place in education institutions and leads to the award of recognised diplomas and qualifications.
  • 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).
  • 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.

The entire formal education sector is organised, grant-aided or simply recognised by one of the three Communities (French, Flemish or German-speaking). Until the revision of the Constitution in 1988, adult vocational training was overseen by the National Employment Office, which was part of the Ministry for Employment and Work. The decree of 16 December 1988 created a Regional Employment Office. Adult vocational training in the French Community was transferred under the decree of 19 July 1993 to the Walloon Region and to the French Community Commission (Cocof) for the Brussels Capital Region. The table below summarises the powers held with regard to the different elements of the system.


Formal education
Non-formal education
Informal education
French Community
· Pre-secondary education
· Secondary education
· Higher education
· Specialised education
· Social advancement education
· Dual Vocational Education and Training
· Childcare
· Continuing education
· Centres for expression and creativity
· Youth organisations
· Distance learning
· Part-time secondary arts education
· etc.
· Libraries
· Literature Promotion Service
· French Language Service
· etc.
Walloon Region (WR) or Brussels-Capital Region (BCR)
Initial training
· Walloon Institute of Dual Vocational   Education and Training for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (IFAPME) (WR)
· Small and Mid-Sized Companies Training Service (BCR)
Continuing vocational training
· Forem (Forem Formation) (WR) - Bruxelles Formation (BCR)
· IFAPME (WR) - Espace Formation PME (BCR)
· Vocational training for the agriculture sector
· Training for the disabled
· Vocational training organised by the job market reintegration agencies (EFT, OISP, AFT, etc.)
· etc.
· Tutoring in companies
Federal state
· Training provided by the Federal Public Service for Defence
· Educational leave
· …

Each education or training facility that forms part of this system has specific objectives that it pursues as a priority, but the different levels of power collaborate in the introduction of transversal policies. Working groups and joint meetings of the governments of the Community, of the Walloon Region, of the Brussels-Capital Region and of Cocof are organised with regard to employment, education and training. Structures are gradually being introduced which reflect this desire for synergy. Thus the skills centres and the future advanced technology centres (ATCs) are open both to pupils and to adults undergoing training.

Moreover, reforms were put in place in 2014 :

- 11/04/2014 : Decree on work and study training between Wallonia, the French Community and the COCOF. It provides for the harmonization of the by-laws of trainee operators, a single contract, a work and study training process, and the creation of the Office Francophone de la Formation en Alternance (OFFA). That system allows to achieve an integration rate exceeding 85 %. In addition the order on job seeker sandwich training was passed in February 2014. It will target young job seekers (18-25), as well as job seekers in retraining session and will allow maximum 18 months training (including 3 to 6 months under the transition internship system), with a target on high demand areas. It will be organized jointly by the FOREM and the IFAPME.

- Decree 11/04/2014 on the cooperation agreement between the French Community, the Walloon Region and the French Community Commission regarding the creation and the management of a French- speaking framework for education and training certifications throughout life (CFC). For 158 233 job-seekers, a skills assessment card has been drawn up, and 205 864 job offers have been passed on in the framework of a plan focusing on occupation in high demand on the labour market. Moreover, specific training courses aiming at green jobs and "occupation tests" that allow for a direct contact with specific bottleneck and promising jobs have been put in place, by both the FOREM and Bruxelles Formation.