Living in Antwerp?
Childcare and Education in Antwerp
Antwerp is home to many high-quality state and private educational institutions. These cater to children from age 2½ to post-graduate university students and everyone in between! This means that taking your children with you to Antwerp as an expat won’t be too daunting. The following guide should familiarize you with the educational environment in Antwerp.
A First Impression of the School System
The city administration manages state schools of all levels: preschool, kindergarten, primary, and secondary. However, there is also an independent, essentially Roman Catholic, network of schools available: in 1965, both an official (state) and an independent (Jesuit) institute were founded. These cater to students of all levels up to university age.
International students considering higher-education institutes in Antwerp can use the Antwerpen Studentenstad website to get familiar with all the main educational institutions in Antwerp.
For Your Younger Children
In Antwerp, you can choose between having an in-home daycare provider and enrolling your child at a nursery. For both types of care, you might be required to pay nothing or some fees relative to your income. Otherwise, you will pay for care at either a daily or monthly rate.
The city of Antwerp is very well equipped with child minders, independent nurseries, and state-run nurseries, as well as nurseries for temporary or emergency use. More information on early childcare is available in Dutch on the city’s childcare website.
Due to the high number of children in Antwerp, the city encourages you to enroll for a space at a childcare center as soon as you know that you are pregnant. Otherwise, there is a significant chance that your child will miss out on a place! If a place is offered to you, respond quickly, otherwise you might lose it in spite of your foresight.
At the age of 2½, children can start preschool; while this isn’t compulsory, almost all Belgian residents take the opportunity to send their kids to some form of preschool or kindergarten. Most primary schools in Antwerp have a kindergarten associated with them, which children can attend the year before they enter primary school.
The Start of Mandatory Education: Primary and Secondary Schools
Primary school begins at the age of six in Flanders. Children usually start learning a foreign language towards the end of primary school, so as to build up fluency from a young age. Secondary school then begins at the age of twelve. You can register your child for the school of your choice via an online form. On Antwerp Schools you can find more information on primary and secondary schools. It is important to know that by law, you are required to enroll your child in school within 60 days of your arrival in Belgium. To do so, you will need proof of ID, a residence permit (if you are not an EEA citizen), proof of key vaccinations, and your child’s previous academic records. You will also need your child’s national identification number, located on your child’s Social Identity Card or Kids-ID. Check that the school you are applying to recognizes international qualifications, as not all do.
As an expat you might choose to opt for an international school. There are many to choose from, but the two most popular amongst expat families in the city are the Antwerp International School (AIS) and the DYP International School, which is directly linked to the British education system.
An Artistic Higher Education
There are lots of choices for students of university age in Antwerp. This is especially the case for students who are artistically inclined: they may find their calling at the National Higher Institute and Royal Academy for Fine Arts (founded in 1663) or the Royal Flemish Conservatory of Music (founded in 1898).
The following higher education institutions, with more than 40 campuses throughout the city, are just some of those available to students in Antwerp:
- University of Antwerp (Universiteit Antwerpen)
- Artesis Plantijn Hogeschool Antwerpen
- Karel de Grote-Hogeschool
- Antwerp Maritime Academy (Hogere Zeevaartschool)
- Institute of Tropical Medicine (Instituut voor Tropische Geneeskunde)
- Antwerp Management School
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