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Belgium-French-Community:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

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At the end of the 6th year of secondary education, secondary schools may organise additional years of study:

  • at the end of the third stage of transition-stream education, a 7th year in preparation for higher education;
  • at the end of the third stage of qualification-stream technical education, a qualifying or complementary 7th year of technical education;
  • at the end of the third stage of vocational education, a type a, b or c 7th year of vocational education.

A fourth stage is organised in full-time complementary vocational education in some secondary education institutions for certain courses such as general hospital nursing and hospital nursing (mental health and psychoanalysis). It consists of three years of study, in some cases preceded by a preparatory year.

Some institutions of social advancement education organise complementary secondary vocational education.

Business management training is organised by IFAPME and the SFPME.

Types of Institutions

Post-secondary non-tertiary education is organised in certain secondary education institutions which offer the course that this type of education supplements (complementary or specialisation years), in some social advancement institutions (secondary complementary vocational education for social advancement) and at the premises of EFPME or IFAPME as well as at its network of training centres (business management course).

Geographical Accessibility

No systematic information is available about the geographical distribution of education institutions that organise these various complementary education courses.

IFAPME uses a network of eight training centres distributed geographically across 14 sites covering the whole of Wallonia. The training centre of the SFPME (the Training Centre for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises or EFPME) serves the Brussels-Capital Region. Theorical courses are taught at the premises of the SFPME. The companies where practical training takes place are spread throughout the territory, and if a young person is unable to learn the trade in which he or she is interested in a company located in the Brussels-Capital Region, he or she may undergo training in a company located in the Walloon Region under the terms of an agreement entered into between IFAPME and the SFPME.

Admission Requirements and Choice of School

Enrolment in an institution of full-time education must take place no later than the first working day in September. For pupils who are the subject of deliberation in September, enrolment takes place on 15 September at the latest. In dual vocational education and training, enrolments are accepted throughout the year.

Holders of an upper secondary education certificate (CESS) may be admitted as regular students to the 7th qualifying year preparing for tertiary education (the special year of mathematics, sciences, modern languages or performance arts and broadcasting techniques).

The 7th specialisation and/or further development year is open to pupils who have successfully completed the 6th qualification-stream year of technical or artistic education.

Pupils who have successfully completed the 6th vocational year may attend a seventh complementary or specialisation year in the same discipline or in a corresponding discipline or a 7th year at the end of which they may gain the certificate of upper secondary education (CESS).

The business management course is open to those who want it, under requirements.

Specific conditions are set for certain courses.

Age Levels and Grouping of Pupils

Pupils in the complementary or specialisation years who have not had to repeat a year are usually 18-19 years old. There is no specific rule regarding class sizes at this level of study.

The business management course may be taken directly after obtaining a qualification or in mid-career.

Organisation of the School Year

The French Community decides when the school year starts and finishes, and which statutory holidays are taken.

The school year generally begins on 1 September and ends on 30 June of the following year. In addition to the two-month summer holidays, students have one week of autumn holidays (early November), two weeks of winter holidays (Christmas), one week of Carnival holidays (February), and two weeks of spring holidays (Easter). Unless otherwise specified for the current year, the spring holidays (often called ‘Easter holidays’) are the first two full weeks of April, regardless of the date of Easter. In addition, a certain number of days off are granted during the school year: Ascension Thursday, Whit Monday, French Community Day (27 September), 11 November, and 1 May.

The government set the number of class days at 182, spread over 37 weeks.

Organisation of the School Day and Week

In Full-Time Education

The weekly timetable

In the complementary years, the number of 50-minute periods per week varies from 28 to 32 (preparatory years for higher education) or from 28 to 36 (other 7th years). In practice, the weekly lesson periods are spread over nine half-days from Monday morning to Friday afternoon.

In the fourth stage of complementary secondary vocational education, the number of periods per week is 36 for each of the three years.

The daily timetable

The time when school starts and finishes is decided by the responsible authority in the area of education. Generally, the mornings consist of four or five 50-minute periods, and the afternoons of three (except for Wednesday afternoon, when there are no classes.). Each full day includes a morning break and a break of at least 50 minutes between morning classes and afternoon classes.

The time at which classes start varies, but is usually between 8 and 8.30 am; classes finish at around 4 pm. Before and after classes, most schools organise out-of-hours ‘study’ sessions during which pupils can complete their homework or study.

In the Business Management Course

The business management course consists of 8 hours of theoretical classes (one day or two evenings) per week. In addition, in all professions for which business management courses are organised, an internship can be arranged: 4 days per week of practical training with an approved head of company.