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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation and governance

Belgium - French Community

2.Organisation and governance

Last update: 27 November 2023

Most powers relating to education are exercised by the French Community, whereas training falls mainly within the competence of the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region.

Freedom of education is enshrined in the Constitution: the organisation of schools may not be subject to any restrictive measures. It is therefore possible to organise schools that have no links to the public authorities. However, schools that wish to confer recognised qualifications and benefit from subsidies from the Community must comply with the provisions of laws, decrees, and regulations.

The vast majority of schools are either organised or grant-aided by the French Community. The responsibility for a school is vested in the person or legal entity known as the ‘controlling authority’: depending on the type of controlling authority, a distinction is made between grant-aided public education (provincial and municipal authorities) and grant-aided independent education (natural persons or private legal entities). The French Community is the sole controlling authority of the institutions that it organises. Most of the controlling authorities in grant-aided education belong to a federation of controlling authorities (‘representation and coordination body’), which represents them in dealings with the government of the French Community. Non-grant-aided private education is virtually non-existent in the French Community.

Since most powers with regard to education have been transferred to the Communities, a twofold shift has been taking place in the French Community: on the one hand, an increasing degree of management autonomy is being granted to institutions, in addition to the high degree of freedom which was already theirs in terms of educational methods; on the other hand, this increasing autonomy has been accompanied by the introduction of new regulatory mechanisms to ensure the development of fairly run schools that perform to a high standard.