The Educational System in Portugal
In Portugal, education is structured into four categories: pre-primary education, basic education, secondary education and higher education.
Pre-primary education: is optional for children aged three to five years old. Pre-primary education is offered for free in state-run nursery schools. Citizens must pay tuition for any privately run nursery school. These schools are often called kindergartens in Portuguese.
Basic education: in Portugal is compulsory. This means you must go from the age of 6. State-run schools are free. When the state-run schools run out of room they give refunds on the tuition to private schools. This makes sure everyone gets into school. Books are not given or sold to students. Financial help is given to poor families.
Basic education is split into three cycles. It lasts a total of nine years. The first cycle lasts four years. It includes basic studies such as Portuguese language, math, environment study, and physical and artistic education. The second cycle lasts two years. It expands on the studies from the first cycle. Music, religion, foreign language, history, and civic education are now included. The third cycle lasts three years. Geography, physics, and chemistry are now included as well. Students are also able to choose a second artistic class like dance or theater. In the ninth and last year of the third cycle, students receive information and communication technologies. They also get to choose between visual education, music/theatre or dance, and technological education.
Secondary education is a lot like high school in the United States. After the ninth year of basic education the Portuguese education system goes in two different directions: higher education and vocational education. Secondary education ends with students either moving on to higher education or moving onto the work force.
In Portugal, most universities are private. State-run universities accept admissions on a competitive basis. The best grades usually are the ones that get in. Higher education in Portugal is divided into two different systems: University and polytechnic. Polytechnic education started in the 1980’s. This system provides practical training to get you ready for a specific job. There are also more than fifteen polytechnic universities in Portugal.