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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Teaching and learning in primary education

Belgium - German-Speaking Community

5.Primary education

5.2Teaching and learning in primary education

Last update: 14 February 2024

Curriculum, Subjects, Number of Hours

The pupil's weekly timetable comprises 28 lessons (Art.22 §3 of the Decree of 26 April 1999 on Standard Primary Education).
The primary school comprises a maximum of three levels of at least two academic years.
In accordance with Article 17 of the Decree of 26 April 1999 on Standard Primary Education, the curriculum at primary school includes the following compulsory subjects and subject areas:
- Language of instruction,
- first foreign language,
- mathematics,
- history and geography,
- science and technology,
- music and art,
- Physical education,
- religion or non-denominational moral teaching. 
As well as the promotion of decree-based generic competences.
Core competences and framework plans determine which educational goals pupils should have acquired by a certain grade. In order to achieve the defined educational goals, the framework plans determine, among other things, which sub-competences the pupils must acquire in the individual teaching levels. These framework plans are binding for teaching in the primary school and in the first stage of the secondary school.
The essential objectives for primary school and the first stage of secondary school have been laid down in the form of core competences and framework plans in the following subjects and subject areas:
- German language of instruction,
- French first foreign language,
- mathematics,
- history/geography,
- science/technology,
- music/art,
- physical education
- Ethics. 

Supra-disciplinary competences such as methodological competences, social and personal competences have also been anchored in the framework curricula. They are developed in all subjects and in school life. They are, on the one hand, a basis for achieving general educational goals and, on the other hand, an important prerequisite for the pupils' personal development. They also form a basis for the development of subject-related competences.
The timetable of primary schools may be designed flexibly. Only for some subjects is the number of lessons per week compulsory: for the first foreign language (2 or 3 lessons of 50 minutes per week in the first and second year, 3 or 4 lessons per week in the third and fourth year and 5 lessons per week in the fifth and sixth year) and for religious education, or non-denominational moral education, for which two lessons per week are compulsory in public schools.
Despite this permitted flexible timetabling, many schools organise their lessons according to a detailed timetable, which used to be compulsory for the compulsory subjects in the GUW. Such a timetable follows for information:

Class/ Year Age (in theory) A B C D E F G H
1. Schoolyear 6 Years old 8 5 1 3,5 2 2 4,5 2
2. Schoolyear 7 Years old 8 5 1 3,5 2 2 4,5 2
3. Schoolyear 8 Years old 7 5 1 4,5 3 2 3,5 2
4. Schoolyear 9 Years old 7 5 2 4 3 2 3 2
5. Schoolyear 10 Years old 5 5 2 4 5 2 3 2
6. Schoolyear 11 Years old 5 5 2 4 5 2 3 2

A = mother tongue; B = mathematics; C = natural sciences; D = humanities; E = foreign language; F = physical education/sport; G = arts and crafts; H = religion or non-denominational morality.

Foreign Languages

In the German-speaking Community, the first foreign language is French. In the French-speaking sections of primary schools, French and German are the first foreign languages of instruction.

For primary schools, the decree of 19 April 2004 on the teaching and use of languages in education provides as follows:

- All Kindergarten must carry out weekly foreign language activities within the framework of the activity plan, with a minimum duration of 50 and a maximum of 200 minutes (i.e. between 10 and 40 minutes a day)

- In primary school, the first foreign language is compulsory from the 1st to the 6th year of primary school. The number of hours per week in this respect is set out in the Decree of 19 April 2004 on the teaching and use of languages in education.

Primary schools are also allowed to carry out activities in the three compulsory subjects or subjects of sport, music and art in the first foreign language. This is noted in the school project. This school project must contain a detailed concept for improving language competence and teaching.

Teaching Methods and Materials

The constitution guarantees the freedom of teaching. Thus, each school authority is free to apply pedagogical methods of its choice in its schools. Within the framework of the didactic-methodological guidelines of his school authority, if any, each teacher is free to use the most appropriate methods for his or her teaching.

Article 13 of the decree of 31.8.1998 on the mandate to the school authorities and school staff and on the general pedagogical and organisational provisions for mainstream and special schools stipulates that "the learning process must be organised in such a way that the pupils can actively participate in building up their own knowledge and acquiring competences. Pupils should experience again and again that knowledge and skills make sense and are applicable. Accordingly, the school endeavours to update the learning situation and to integrate it into the pupils' lives." The learning content to be taught is defined per level. This makes it possible to better take into account the individual learning rhythms of the children through differentiated learning processes.

Despite all-day schools, homework is common practice. There is no legal regulation in this respect, only recommendations to reduce it to a minimum.

Textbooks are pedagogical aids in all schools and are also a valuable tool for the language education of pupils. There are no central guidelines: The use and purchase of textbooks is based on a decision made by the school or school boards. As a rule, the schools decide autonomously which textbooks are to be purchased for which subjects/subjects, which are then made available to the pupils free of charge.

In addition to the books, various media such as interactive boards, beamers, computers, laptops, tablets, ... are used in the various lessons.