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Main types of provision

Belgium - German-Speaking Community

8.Adult education and training

8.4Main types of provision

Last update: 27 November 2023

Provision to Raise Achievement in Basic Skills

Adults who wish to improve their basic skills in various areas including ICT, languages,… can follow courses in evening schools, which are affiliated to secondary schools. This type of provision falls under the responsibility of the Education Department of the Ministry of the German-speaking Community. It can lead to certificates corresponding to the system of initial education as well as to various certificates specific to the system of adult education (e.g. upon completion of short ICT courses). All people who are out of anymore in compulsory school age are legally entitled to participate. Access to certain levels of education is only possible for adults who provide proof of the required knowledge. A council decides on the admission of the adult.
The duration of the courses is variable. Although this provision is publicly subsidised, learners are expected to pay fees, which vary across institutions and courses.

There are also 13 publicly subsidized adult education institutions (Erwachsenenbildungseinrichtungen) recognized by the Ministry of the German-speaking Community providing courses in various areas, including literacy, numeracy and ICT. These courses have a non-formal character and their duration and content vary significantly across programmes and institutions. They generally do not lead to any certificate or qualification. Although provision is publicly subsidised (sources are national as well as European funding), learners are expected to co-finance their tuition.

An example of this area are language courses, organized by the KAP (Cultural action and presence) in German, French , English, Russian or Spanish at different levels. Most of them lead to TELC language certificates. Other institutions offer language courses for different target groups (including migrants).

Provision to Achieve a Recognised Qualification during Adulthood

In the German-speaking Community, the opportunity exists to acquire certification of primary and secondary education not only in school, but also school externally.

All formal qualifications up to upper secondary education - i.e. including programmes situated at the level of lower secondary education - can be obtained through a system of external examinations coordinated by the Ministry of the German-speaking Community. Within this system, students follow a curriculum comparable to the one of initial education. They can prepare for the exams by themselves or be prepared by an institution. The duration of preparation varies across institutions and depends on the qualification that is being prepared for. Generally, it lasts between one and two years and includes between 570 and 1080 hours of tuition. Participants are expected to pay fees, both for the tuition and for external examinations. According to the statistics of the Ministry of the German-speaking Community, in 2015, only one participant took an evaluation for a certificate situated below upper secondary education (additional 73 participants took an evaluation at the level of upper secondary education.

Provision Targeting the Transition to the Labour Market

To ensure adequate access of unemployed jobseekers to education and training, the Ministry of the German-speaking Community commissions the Employment Office with the organisation of education and training for this target group.

The aim of education and training of job seekers is to improve opportunities in the labour market.

All jobseekers have the right to participate in education and training, however it is not compulsory.

A prerequisite for participation is a previous conversation with a consultant to clarify motivation, expectations, qualifications, etc. Only then jobseekers can, together with the consultant, provide a training request and sign a training contract. Training contracts with the employment office always see a training premium (0.99 € per course hour) and the refund of travel expenses in addition to the unemployment benefit.

There are different offers: professional qualifications, individual training within the company, internships, projects for professional and social integration. They are organized by the employment office itself, but also by other means. In cooperation with these organizations, the labour office takes over the preparation, monitoring, support.

  • For professional qualifications, the work office has its own training centres in the following areas:
    • Office Occupations: The program includes comprehensive computer training, language courses as well as commercial and accountancy courses. Each training concludes with a six-week internship. In addition, a job coaching is offered.
    • House building: The construction business has a long tradition in East Belgium as an important, respected employment branch. For this reason, the work office offers various programs:
      • The mason basic training in which modern practical techniques and skills and knowledge in the fields of expertise, plan reading, safety, handling and maintenance are taught. A quality control ensures the learning outcomes.
      • The teaching in the building trades industry. it is aimed at young jobseekers between 18 and 25 years. The training centre of the work office covers the following professions: bricklayer, concrete workers, road builders, tillers and plasterers.
    • Cleaning Techniques: The work consists in cleaning the interiors and exteriors of buildings and transport. Cleaners must be able to clean using different cleaning methods, equipment and machinery diverse surfaces. The training combines practical (use of equipment) with theoretical knowledge (products, hygiene, safety, etc.).
  • Individual vocational training in enterprises (IBU): Jobseekers can apply for an IBU. A concrete example: a jobseeker receives a job offer from the work office and will be invited for an interview. He is interested in the offer of employment, however he is not sufficiently qualified. If the employer doesn’t propose an IBU on his own initiative, he may refer him to this possibility. If an agreement is reached, a training contract between the jobseeker, the employer and the work office is completed. The work office provides all the necessary information (formalities, remuneration, etc.), helps in the development of the training program and ensures the smooth running of the training.
  • Experience through internships: These actions are aimed at jobseekers with little work experience and few qualifications. The internships offer the opportunity to meet the professional and working life, to gain professional experience and figure out what kind of activities are for job seekers most appropriate. Interested parties should find a possible internship itself. The Work Office can also propose an operation. Trainees complete a training contract.

Provision of Liberal (Popular) Adult Education

The range of non-formal adult education in the German-speaking community is large and numerous institutions offer courses and seminars.

The decree for the promotion of adult education institutions envisages that the 13 recognised adult education institutions (Erwachsenenbildungseinrichtungen) are open for all citizens without limitation, so that they can acquire, develop or update their key competences. The aim is also to promote social inclusion, equal opportunities in the broadest sense, collective ability to act and the sense of citizenship and learning essential social and civic values.

The adult education institutions are free to design their curriculum and to select teachers and co-workers . Issues of non - formal adult education include:
- Health and Social Services
- Art and design
- Nature and Environment
- Sport and Dance

The detailed programmes can be retrieved on the websites of the 13 providers (see previous section 8.3 Main Providers).

As mentioned in section 8.3, there are six creative studies in the German-speaking community, which programmes consist of at least 75 % of the creative (cultural or creative crafts) offers. Their offer is very broad and goes from the classic activities such as silk painting, pottery and patchwork to aerobics, senior sport, lectures, expositions and other relevant activities according to demand.

The Academy of Music offers in addition to basic training in music and private lessons in nearly all classical instruments courses in diction, declamation, drama, ballet, music history and choral and wind orchestra direction.

In addition to the 13 recognised adult education institutions, creative studios and the Academy of Music, there are other providers offering training courses in creative, health or cultural sectors. These projects are then organised within the framework of a general funding of the institution.  Examples of these projects are first aid courses, which are organised by the Belgian Red Cross and conclude with the European First Aid Certificate, field guide- or beekeeping courses of the Nature Centre Ternell or courses for adults with disabilities organised by the Department For Persons With Disabilities.

Other Types of Publicly Subsidises Provision for Adult Learners

The Ministry of the German-speaking Community subsidises some institutions that offer training for specific professional groups. These trainings are therefore open only to a limited audience. 

The “Autonome Hochschule in der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft”, the only institution of higher education in the German-speaking Community, provides trainings in pedagogical, personal development and specific subjects for the whole school staff in the community. In cooperation with the KPVDB, the German-speaking nursing association in Belgium, the institution of higher education also offers courses for nurses.

The Chamber of Commerce provides trainings in the fields of techniques, business and staff management, communications, accounting, foreign trade and purchasing / sales / marketing to people from business. 

The two centers for education and training in the SME sector (ZAWM) organise trainings for self-employed in the technical or commercial areas and for workers in SMEs. The trainings relate to different subject areas, for example, management, IT, building trade, transport and languages. 

The Department For Persons With Disabilities also addresses trainings to a specific professional group, namely to all members of staff of the disability sector in the GC.