Education is compulsory from six to eighteen years of age for Belgians.
Among OECD countries in 2002, Belgium had the third-highest proportion of 18–21 year-olds enrolled in postsecondary education, at 42%.Though an estimated 98% of the adult population is literate, concern is rising over functional illiteracy.The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Belgium’s education as the 19th best in the world, being significantly higher than the OECD average.There are differences between the education systems in the Flemish, French and the German-speaking Communities. The Flemish Community scores relatively higher than the German-speaking and French Communities.
Mirroring the dual structure of the 19th-century Belgian political landscape, characterized by the Liberal and the Catholic parties, the educational system is segregated within a secular and a religious segment. The secular branch of schooling is controlled by the communities, the provinces, or the municipalities, while religious, mainly Catholic branch education, is organized by religious authorities, although subsidized and supervised by the communities.