From 1840 onwards, adult education establishments or Sunday schools offered citizens the opportunity of getting through primary education. Gradually, this structure was abolished by the establishment of compulsory school attendance.
In 1959, a system of remote education was established on national level besides the institutions for adult education. However, remote education was and is not organised separately in German for pupils living in the German-speaking Community: they can fall back upon the opportunities offered as well by remote education in neighbouring Germany as in the French or Flemish Community.
With the federalisation of the Belgian state, the German-speaking Community became responsible for adult education and training.
Formal and non-formal adult education belonged to different departments from the start, since the formal adult education is an educational matter and the non-formal adult education is a cultural matter.
For the first time, a Council of Public and Adult Education in the German-speaking community was established for the non-formal adult education in 1981. The main tasks were then to consult the responsible minister, as well as to prepare expert reports and opinions.
On 17 November 2008 a new decree on the promotion of adult education institutions was adopted. This decree focuses on the right of every citizen to acquire, deepen or update key skills. The application of this decree has led to a radical reorganisation of adult education organisations.
After the latest community election in June 2014, the responsibilities of the Minister changed, which influenced the structure within the ministry. The department of Adult Education is no longer located in the cultural sphere, but in the Department of Education and teaching organisation. Now formal and non-formal adult education and training is organised and managed by the same Ministry department.