Education in Belgium
BY HENRI GRÉGOIRE
BELGIUM IS THE classic country of humanism and liberty. Therefore it is only natural mat its educational system from the elementary or primary school up to the university should be conspicuous for freedom of teaching and for a marked faithfulness to the humanistic legacy of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance handed down to modern generations by the Jesuits--those very Jesuits to whom Belgium probably owes her national name: for it was the appearance of the words provincia belgica on the countless textbooks used in the schools of the order, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which helped make generally popular the revived name of the "bravest of the Gauls."
But in Belgium freedom of teaching does not mean, as one would expect, a motley variety of all possible kinds of schools and educational methods. Although the constitution and laws permit and guarantee complete liberty to the founders, managers, and teachers of all institutions dedicated to public or private education, there are, nevertheless, two controlling elements which contribute toward keeping a certain standard--even a rather rigid one--in all teaching establishments. The first element is the right to confer degrees, diplomas, and certificates. This right can be granted only by law, and those who apply for it have to prove that their schools, colleges, or universities are operated in full compliance with certain requirements of a very strict nature. In other words, even the freest schools founded by individuals, religious denominations, or other corporations, by the municipalities or by the provinces, are in a sense state schools, because their curriculum has to be a state curriculum fixed by law. Of course, this provision
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Publication information: Book title: Belgium. Contributors: Jan-Albert Goris - Editor. Publisher: University of California Press. Place of publication: Berkeley, CA. Publication year: 1945. Page number: 226.